School budgets are not an easy thing to manage. Keeping your theatre arts program funded requires building a better relationship with your school’s principal and other administrators. Developing that relationship can be completed by thinking like an administrator and making sure your program serves the community as a whole. Here’s how:Making sure that programs and initiatives reflect well on your school is a top priority for school administrators. This goes beyond student success on standardized tests and high college admission rates to extracurricular activities. While many administrators may think primarily about sports team performances, theatre educators can easily fit into this category as well.
How? Everyone knows administrators love it when sports teams bring home those trophies. Every production you put on does the same thing that a trophy represents. You create positive recognition for your school in the community and keep students engaged and growing.
1. Theatre creates opportunities for student success.
What are the elements of that success that are important to your administrator? Compared to sports teams, you have both similar and unique advantages. What is similar? Sports require individual effort and teamwork. School theatre clearly demands both of those. Students involved in every aspect of a production have opportunities to achieve as individuals and to succeed as part of a team in the cast or crew.
2. Productions create opportunities for intra-departmental partnerships and student engagement.
Think of all the colleagues you collaborate with for a successful theatre production. You may work with the:
- music department and students when you produce a musical;
- art department and students when designing scenery and lighting;
- history department when developing an understanding of what the world was like when the play is set, including researching appropriate costumes and props;
- shop and vocational department and students when building sets;
- home economics department and students when creating costumes; and
- audio-visual department when working with mixers, microphones, and, within copyright laws, when video recording rehearsals for learning and excerpts for online and email promotions.
Thanks to this intra-departmental collaboration your theatre program activities include students across a range of disciplines. You have involved many more students than just those who are on stage and backstage. This involvement impacts them through first-hand engagement in the result—they contribute directly to the production of your show. While students may cheer on the sports teams from the stands, they don’t make a difference in the outcome of a game.
3. Your productions grow your school’s reputation in the community.
Just like school sports puts fans in the stands, you are putting audiences in the auditorium. Encourage your administrator to attend a performance and experience the community’s enthusiasm for themselves.
Plus, your productions patronize the community:
- You buy lumber and paint for sets
- The cast and crew may create t-shirts they buy from the local screen printer
- You may print your show programs our outside signs
- You may sell refreshments you buy at local stores
Everywhere you take y our school’s business is a positive exposure. With each and every transaction you are elevating the reputation of your school and your theatre program among those who don’t have students at your school.
4 .Your productions generate revenue.
Every audience member bought a ticket. And at intermission, they may buy refreshments or read ads for local businesses you’ve sold in the program book. This revenue helps offset the cost of the theatre program in the school budget. It’s OK to remind your administrator that you pay (part of) your own way.
5. Your show promotions are positive reminders about the school.
For weeks before every production, you get to remind the community about the great and positive things going on in your school. Fill your theatre program’s website and social media channels with cast photos and bios, rehearsal stills, background information about the play, and more. Send those links to the school and district websites and newsletters, as well as to local media outlets. Growing engagement reflects well on your program and your school district as well.
Local media also loves to highlight personal angles, like the adult volunteer usher who’s worked hundreds of performances, or the student who successfully combined being on the crew with their robotics team participation. Generating media coverage is worth the effort because it’s an outside source validating the benefits of your theatre program, and your school, to the entire community. These opportunities can be created through smart promotional strategies to get the word out about your next production.
Even better, three of these five ‘wins’-- the ticketing, ad revenue, and promotion-- can empower students even further involving them in front-of-house theatre administration.
Your theatre program’s success is your top concern. Let On The Stage help with our easy-to-use solution for ticketing, promotions, seating, streaming, and more, available at no cost to your district.