My morning started yesterday at the Toronto Fringe Festival office. I took in a free workshop they were offering about creative fundraising for independent production. I also used the time to meet with a woman there about the staged reading for Dick. More than anything, I learned that raising money takes hard work, creativity, specificity, and hard work. Also, it takes hard work.
There are two types of fundraising that were discussed at the workshop. In the first instance, there are those who raise money to support their theatre company – who in turn will use the funds to produce plays. This is more of a community building exercise with subscribers, donors, sponsors, and theatre creatures around the creative vision of a singular theatre company. I guess you could call this activity ‘brand building’, though no one in the room actually used that term.
The second type of fundraising activity involves raising money for a specific production. All funds go directly towards staging a particular play. Not much thought is put towards future productions because it’s hard enough just getting a single production off the ground that will move an audience. This category seemed to be where most people in the room were living. After much thought and consideration, I would have to say that this is the category where I choose to live as well.
I have produced over 60 episodes of television and countless corporate projects through my own production company, Dacian Productions Inc. I don’t think it will benefit me to expand Dacian’s scope into the theatre realm. Let’s not confuse people about…
Actually, what does it matter? If I successfully develop a drama series, it will be under Dacian. If I green light a doc series, it will be under Dacian. If I do a theatre production, why not do it as Dacian? It’s not like I have legions of fans clamouring for a ‘Dacian Brand’. And even when I did do all those other projects – legally, they were always 3rd party shell corporations that operated under the umbrella of Dacian. I raised funds for them individually and used Dacian’s infrastructure to produce them.
So fine. Fuck it. Not Being A Dick will be a ‘Dacian Production’. I’ll still be focusing my efforts on the 2nd category of fundraising for the play. To this end I have the staged reading coming up – sort of a mocked up version of the production, without actually being a production. Actors will have the scripts in their hands. There’ll be rudimentary blocking. Limited rehearsal time. Little to no thought put towards wardrobe, lights, props, or sound. But there will be an audience, and there will be a performance.
As much as I plan to use the reading as a way to gather notes on my next draft of the script, there is also an opportunity to introduce the play to potential sponsors and other people whom I would wish to work with. To this end, I’ll need to tax my network of contacts – not invite just my friends, or people from the theatre world, but make sure a wide swath of contacts, and contacts of contacts are present. That was the key message delivered at the workshop yesterday. We can’t be content to count on the incestuous support of theatre people attending each others’ shows. It’s essential to bring people from outside the community, into the tent. There are specific themes in Dick that will resonate with different communities and businesses in this city. All I have to do is identify them, then invite them to the reading.
Speaking of fundraising. I heard from the broadcaster about my documentary series. They like the idea, but funding could be a problem. I am encouraged. If the broadcaster agrees to air the production, perhaps I could raise the money I need through corporate sponsorships, funnel that money back through the broadcaster, then be eligible for tax credits and CMF envelopes. I need to organize a phone call to get the ball rolling on that.
Look at me. I’m all business all of a sudden.