Richie Rich and the “theater” (say it like Kristen Wiig would on Saturday Night Live) might be vastly different, but the idea of fundraising and development have a lot in common with Macaulay Culkin’s best role (minus Home Alone or being Mila Kunis’ boyfriend). You have to not spend money, but HAVE money to make even MORE money. In the Wilma’s case, they’re non-profit, so making more money helps to create productions and advance its mission. And creating personal relationships with its donors and funders, then following up with those relationships, are the keys to sustaining people’s support.
For the past couple weeks, we were working on a gigantic/enormous annual mailing. It was full of folding paper, eating inexpensive Thai food and hearing criticisms of Birdman from volunteers. Epic. What makes the experience at the Wilma so great, is the people who are there. I think that’s the key to a successful business. People can joke around, but still get their stuff done. Everyone sees the value of everyone else. Even though, I’m not sure if I’m suited to be doing paperwork, I see why it’s done. While I was at home during Thanksgiving, I received a letter I mailed to myself from our annual mailing. Not sending out a job to a printer, having a barcode on an envelope creates a personal impression on the recipient. It did on me.
I’ll always be more drawn to writing or research work, coming from those backgrounds. But learning these skills makes you realize attracting people to your business is vital to the process. I enjoy posting dramaturgical research on Wilma’s tumblr, creating a postcard and hearing people’s ideas for future large projects more than say, mailing thank you letters, but the reality is you have to do that to succeed. Although my time at the Wilma is not over, in the past three or so months I have been shown a more business side to the world. I haven’t had that during my time in college; I’m usually creating adverts, co-writing a novel (respond back literary agents…whatever) and co-creating + not budgeting a Fringe show. Even though the not budgeting thing worked out in the end (#PROFITZZZ), I know that doing theatrical or non-theatrical projects in the future requires creating databases of your patrons, saying thanks for coming and doing surveys with the people who did come.
On the whole, this experience has taught me a lot about the money in theater, and the ideas and creativity it takes to stay afloat and successful in a country and time period that doesn’t completely value the art form. Why go to regional theater when I can see Emma Stone singing Cabaret or even better, pirate X-Men: Days of Future Past…again? I’m excited to build up to another opening. The play is Body of an American, please come January 7th-February 1st. If you don’t really like plays and all that jazz, this one is more of a conversation between a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and the writer. It comes off like a documentary.
So peace out temple ad lib blog, it’s been nice knowing you twice this semester.