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Engaging Feeder Schools & Building Your Theatre Program

By On The Stage

Any great theatremaker is always thinking a few steps ahead when it comes to the success of their program. One of the many ways to do this? Engage with feeder schools in your area.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a feeder school is an institution from which many or most students progress to a particular higher-level educational institution. (Think elementary and middle schools in your area.) When you think about it, the students at these feeder schools are the future of your program – your next potential pool of actors and crew members. So, creating and maintaining relationships with these schools is paramount. 

Why Should I Engage with Feeder Schools? 

There are a bevy of reasons to get involved with feeder schools in your area. 

  • Grow your program from scratch: Visiting feeder schools and interacting with the students gives you the opportunity to grow the future of your theatre program. Establishing strong relationships with both students and leadership plants the seed of success.
  • Preview the talent: Visiting feeder schools and offering some sort of programming to them gives you a preview of what’s to come for your own program. Knowing the type of talent that’s heading towards you can help you plan accordingly when it comes to choosing titles for next season. 
  • Form bonds: The last thing you want within your theatre program is a flock of anxious, self-doubting actors. Forming bonds with students at feeder schools before they come to your program ensures they feel confident and excited to get to work when the time comes. 
  • Spark an interest: Some students may not have theatre programs at their feeder schools. Engaging these students may be the perfect spark they need to ignite a life-long love of theatre. 
  • Create value in the community: No matter the avenue in which you interact with feeder schools, you are adding value into the community by advocating for the arts. Win-win! 

Where Can I Start?

While you now understand why interaction with feeder schools is important, you may still be at a loss on how to get started. Here are a few ideas to help get the ball rolling. 

  1. Incorporate parts for younger students
    Consider integrating bit parts or low-stakes ensemble roles into your next all school musical. Then, encourage kids from your feeder schools to audition. Not only is this a win for you and your program if you’re looking for a fuller cast, but it also gets potential students interested in your program.

    Additionally, it’s an invaluable experience for younger students to audition and rehearse in the “big leagues” and shake off any nerves.

  2. Invest in summer programming
    Younger students (and perhaps their parents, too) are always looking for things to do in the summer. Capitalize on that open market by launching summer camps or summer programming geared towards your feeder schools. You can stage and put on a Jr. production with the campers, and even employ your current students to act as leaders or counselors.

    This will help your established students form relationships with potential new members of your program, while helping campers get acquainted with what it feels like to be involved.

  3. Host on-campus workshops
    Collaborate with leadership at feeder schools to host workshops in their theatres or other spaces. Workshop topics can range from audition etiquette to improv exercises, acting tips, lighting and sound design 101, and everything in between. By visiting students at their home base, they may feel more comfortable – ready to explore and learn from the pros.

  4. Offer discounts and extend invitations
    Offer discounted group tickets and a personal invitation to your next showcase to your feeder schools – or even offer to host younger students for dress rehearsals. This way, potential students are engaged in the process and feel valued, with the bonus of a live audience before your show opens to the public.

  5. Host open houses
    Taking the pressure off the younger students, you can plan and host open houses to help feeder school kids become familiar and comfortable with your theatre program. Invite some of your current students to mingle, keeping the event welcoming and low stakes.

  6. Utilize the buddy system
    A surefire way to ensure feeder school students feel included and at ease? Pair them up with your theatre program students during events or on visits. After all, the best advertising of your program comes from the testimony of a current student!

  7. Organize field trips
    Coordinate with feeder schools to organize field trips. Consider attending a community theatre showcase with your current students and feeder school students, or invite them to see a one act performance you’re putting on. 

How On The Stage Can Help

Aside from engaging with feeder schools, you’re likely looking for more ways to grow your theatre program. Lucky for you, On The Stage can throw an assist every step of the way. With a full suite of offerings, On The Stage can help you:

  • Promote and sell tickets and merchandise
  • Create templated websites, curated artwork, and a show program generator
  • Send out automated emails and social media marketing for your productions
  • Utilize seating charts, walk-up ticketing apps, ticket scanning, and reporting
  • Optimize self-funding via turnkey campaign templates 
  • Employ custom tools and best-in-class technology
  • Engage your cast and crew with gamified leaderboards and individual campaign pages

If you’re ready to take charge of your theatre’s future, book a personalized demo today. 

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Tags: school theatre, production, resources, how-to, marketing

On The Stage

On The Stage

By theatre makers, for theatre makers, On The Stage offers expert insights, best-in-class support, and an all-in-one platform for ticketing, promotion, audience engagement, and more...including a complete production and streaming platform for performing artists. Learn more today.