Everyone knows administrators love it when sports teams bring home those trophies. For theatre educators, it can be frustrating to fight for funding when it seems so much money is being poured into stadiums, tournaments and jerseys.

Here’s the thing- finding the same support for your theatre program means speaking your administrator’s language. To an administrator trophy translates into community recognition and engaged, growing and successful students. We know, and you know, every production you put on does the same thing. So here’s three ways to prove it.

1. Show how 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. Demonstrate the opportunities for intra-departmental partnerships and student engagement

Consider involving more than just performing arts students in your program by offering first-hand engagement. To scratch the surface, here’s a list of ways to engage the larger school community:

  • Ask your art students to help design scenery and lighting;
  • Engage a history class in researching appropriate costumes and props for period pieces;
  • Offer to validate volunteer hours for college if students that help build the set;
  • Find economics students to delegate a budgeting project to,
  • and/or create a student marketing team with students in a business class.

While students may cheer on the sports teams from the stands, in the end they don’t really make a difference in the outcome of a game. Helping with the production is not only a college resume builder, but it’s something they can contribute to, and be proud of.

3. Illustrate the community interest

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, show ways your productions can patronize the community:

  • Buy paint and lumber from your local construction business
  • Involve a local thrift shop in costume pieces
  • Print ads for supportive local businesses in your programs
  • Host refreshment stands from local businesses during intermission

Not only does involving the community bring more invested viewers to your seats on opening night, it demonstrates to your school administration that your program contributes to the community as a whole.

4. Communicate how 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 never hurts to remind your administrator that you aren’t just asking for more money, you’re contributing to the costs as well.

5. Explain the positive impacts of promotion

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.

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