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Whether you’re upgrading old equipment or starting from scratch, purchasing new equipment can be a pain point for theatre departments on already small or decreasing budgets. Here are a few strategies to help you secure equipment for your school.
Consider communal or shared equipment at your school. Talk with your colleagues in the athletic department, music department, digital media, or other areas that also use lights, sound, and cameras in their work and see if they too have equipment needs. You may be able to share the cost and upkeep of the equipment. Shared costs might enable you to get a newer or more expensive model than what you were originally planning! Be sure to create a schedule for equipment usage and priority and how to gain access to where it’s stored.
If your budget doesn’t currently allow for new equipment purchases, raise the money yourself! This can be done in any number of ways, and it’s not as hard as you may think. You’ll already be selling tickets to your productions and have a sales goal in mind. What if you increased your sales goal and ran a ticket contest among your cast and crew? Students love friendly competition, and you can sweeten the deal with some kind of incentive for the winner.
Could you increase your ticket price by a small amount or add a donation button to your ticket sales page? Speaking of donations, On The Stage has a fundraising resource that could be exactly what you need. And if you haven’t already applied for grants, this is a great reason to start.
Just think how easy it could be to reach your fundraising goal if you’re splitting the equipment cost with another department.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve asked for support for your department or school’s administration, it might be time to schedule a meeting to discuss your equipment and budgetary needs. Make sure you come prepared to this meeting with numbers and data and student testimonials to strengthen your case. You know the arts provide significant value to the world, so don’t be shy about what would add value to your department. Equipment is an investment, and if you invest wisely, it’s not a recurring expense, but it could pay dividends when it comes to your production quality and your students’ experience.
Who can you partner with in your fundraising efforts? What community businesses or organizations can you identify that will support your school or theatre department? This can be in terms of event promotion, donation of goods (like equipment) or services, or other types of sponsorships. What non-profits in your area work with schools or in arts education? Chamber of commerce and other business networking events are great places to find a community partner.
Check with your theatre colleagues from other schools to see how they’ve acquired new equipment and build strategies together. How can your departments help each other?
Do any local organizations rent the equipment you need? Maybe renting equipment is the best course of action right now, while you’re fundraising or working on getting your administration’s support. The benefit of renting is that you can try different models and items without being stuck with a purchase.
Any of these strategies are effective on a standalone basis, or you can mix and match them all for maximum effect. On The Stage is here with more resources for the business side of theatre production, so you can focus more time on your students and acquiring the equipment you need. Find out how we can help make your theatre department the best it can be with our solutions for schools.