One huge problem for Theatre Organizations is Money. I figure there are two answers to this:
Education and Going Green.
By Education, I mean training programs, outreach, and community involvement. In addition, working with schools ( or as part of a school or on-profit) can help earn access to various grants and/or scholarships for student employees. Speaking of students, volunteer positions are also great ways to reduce budget and increase community involvement.
By Going Green, I mean planning and communicating. There’s no reason a Theatre should have to spend a nickle that it doesn’t need to (on things other than art, that is). I recommend viral marketing to cut down on mailing costs, online updates and posting for cast and crew to reduce printing expenses, and web databases for easier access and storage saving for files. That being said, having hard copies of items never hurt.
I also refer to architecture in building structure. There’s no reason a theatre should be built above ground. Granted, perhaps local geology or geography makes it preferable, but if you want to save money, you can save on expenses for heating, and cooling (and land space) by simply building down rather than up. Theatre is a naturally subterranean art these days: the needs of lighting require a space without windows. By building down first, one can save money on site construction by putting parking above the theatre space.
Underground building isn’t all that is available. Currently in DC there is a Solar Decathlon between around twenty universities, all working on building houses that cover the costs of their energy expenses over the course of the year. This system allows them, in some cases, to store that same energy and sell it back to energy companies in their area. These sorts of buildings would make for excellent above-ground reception and training areas for students, and, if the methods work well enough in energy storage, could help eventually store energy that would pay for the costs of theatrical technology.
Another method of going Green is communication, especially in terms of waste management. I cannot stress enough the benefits of community involvement in waste management. I have seen, at my college, whole set pieces get torn down and shredded because they did not fit stock requirements. I think that with a few years’ communication work and developing relationships with local theatres and schools, that this waste could be reduced, perhaps even eliminated, through a system of trade, rent, and exchange (perhaps a rent/ trade credit program). The necessity to foster such programs is open communication between multiple groups, which again brings up the idea of internet presence. This is a fast method of communication which costs less than mailing and results in less paperwork and travel than driving around putting up fliers.
I especially encourage work with local conservation groups, art departments, music groups, churches and theatres – all entities which exist off charity and community and should all be working together to better the community.
To recap, my recommendations for the Theatre for reducing costs are:
- communication and community outreach, especially for terms of waste management and storage,
- internet use for publicity and paperwork
- ties to education/programs for education/non-for-profit status that allows for access to grants and scholarships,
- architecture that reduces costs of heating, cooling, space use, and light issues, perhaps working with underground theatres and overgrown 0-energy spaces.