In the process of becoming a director you will be confronted with many different tasks, and as with everything in life there are the fun, exciting ones and the ones you’d rather stay away from but can’t avoid. Diving into new writing or re-inventing classic work, experimenting with movement techniques and exploring the stage space with actors – these are the moments when you love being a director and can’t think of anything else you ever wanted to be. On the other hand, begging assistants for e-mail addresses or constantly being on the phone pleading for money makes you wonder if your parents were right after all, suggesting a career in finance or law rather the inconsistency of theatre.
I’m not going to lie: fundraising is a depressing, frustrating job and it makes you question not only your profession but also what kind of value the arts hold in this world. I am sure neither Aristophanes nor Sophocles would appreciate the attitude of today’s politicians towards the arts industry. What happened to the days when being a patron was a respectable position, accepted and admired by the citizens? To be the sponsor of the Dionysia was an honour for powerful business people and something achievable – and so should it be today to support the new generation of theatre-makers.
But in 2013 priorities obviously lie elsewhere and the struggle to find money in order to provide a regular working environment for your team is exhausting. Nevertheless, in fundraising there is really only one way forward: be persuasive and persistent, find the unusual approach and never give up. Call people before you send them a letter of appeal, get their names and call again. Know your stuff so you can answer questions and explain clearly who you are and what you want.
There is nothing worse than stuttering feebly when talking to the CEO of a big Investment Fund. After all it is your project, your baby so to speak, so you should really know exactly what it is you want the money for, how you will use it and why they should give it to you. Apart from contacting the obvious trusts and arts councils, don’t be afraid to get in touch with companies that are not related to the arts industry – construction companies, estate agents, car dealers – they all might want to invest some of their money back into community projects. When planning your budget, see where you can save. In our case we found support from Theatre Delicatessen which provides us with free rehearsal and audition space, and the Big Red Bus restaurant will be hosting our fundraising event.
So good luck with getting cash for your next production – let me know when you’ve found the magic trick that makes the dollars flow!
Photo by Flickr user images_of_money under a Creative Commonc licence.