Create Guidelines and a two year Plan for Starting a New Theater Company
Many artists including actors play wrights and directors often look forward to earning their own play houses. Owning a play house or theatre is a prestigious achievement that both artists and business persons dream of attaining. Successfully starting a theater is a stepwise process that requires prior planning and a clear understanding of both the internal and external factors that influence its performance in different ways. The organization of the respective theater house also plays an important role in influencing its success.
It is also important to understand the reasons behind the formation of the theater in order to align its operations to the established goals and objectives. To attain this, it is important to undertake good planning and establish a solid foundation that would yield optimal and sustainable results long after the project has been completed. This is particularly important because starting up a theater requires substantial financial and labor resources. The following guidelines offer useful insights that an individual needs to be aware of during the setting up of a new theater company.
In his research, Webb argues that although setting up an individual theatre is an exciting venture, it involves a lot of patience as well as hard work to be able to come up with desirable outcomes. Although artistic talents would be required to keep the theater running, it is vital to place equal emphasis on the business aspect of the theater. The first step towards establishing a theater pertains to making a decision or decisions about the managerial structure. Generally, the management would be responsible for making decisions regarding various aspects of the theater. They also involve themselves in making vital decisions about the kind of project that would be pursued in future. As such, it is important to determine the individuals that would assume the preceding tasks and outline their responsibilities accordingly.
The theater usually has various facets that would require managers to oversee the decision making process. It is important to highlight individuals that would be responsible for administrative work in different departments. This eliminates conflicts, ensures harmonic functioning and effective decision making. To effectively undertake this, one can review the bylaws of current theaters in a bid to understand what the procedure entails. Demarcating the boundaries for responsibilities and decision making is very important and goes a long way in boosting effective performance.
After identifying and clarifying the structure and responsibilities of the management, one should then focus on developing a mission statement. Essentially, this acts as an identity for the theater company (Mulcahy 35). It also goes a long way in shaping the future projects, activities and operations that the business would concern itself with. The mission statement needs to be not only broad but also distinctive. In essence, it should be able to identify the vision of the theater too. Since the mission is an identity of the theater, it should be original, unique and reflect its work or operations. It should effectively make the theater to stand out amongst the innumerable others that operate in the market. The mission needs to be created during the initial stages of setting up a theater in order to allow for determination of the kind of projects that would be handled by the respective theater.
After developing the mission, one should then proceed to identifying and creating a logo or a name for the theater. This is important for publicity purposes and should therefore be appealing to the target audience. The best name can be attained through brainstorming and basing ideas on creativity. Care should be taken to ensure that the name that is proposed is not in use by any local company. In his research, Webb suggests that since the name would constitute the ‘face’ of the company, it needs to be catchy and appealing. This would be in enabling the clients to remember it. Moreover, the logo needs to be memorable for easy remembrance by the clients. Fundamentally, this marks the very first step of marketing the name of the theater.
After this, the owner can then proceed to registering the theater company name with the respective local authorities (Nelson and Schwimmer 61). This step is basically aimed at ensuring that the business is legal. In addition, it is important for protecting the name of the business that an individual has chosen. During registration, one outlines the ownership state of the company with regard to whether it is a corporation, sole proprietor and so forth. This is then made public in the local paper or any other form of media such as the internet in order to inform the public about the creation of a new theater. This is also important in protecting the name of the company from future aspirants who might be interested in this.
This is then followed by the opening of a bank account for the theater. In this regard, it is widely agreed that there is no any other better way of accounting for the business finances or funds than opening a separate bank account for the respective business. This is also important because it eases financial operations. For instances, there is a possibility of some checks being written under the name of the company. It would be easier to process such checks than if they were written under the name of an individual. Arguably, having a company bank account also implies that the respective business is credible. It shows that the business is official and its owner accords it the seriousness it deserves. In most cases, this requires that the respective individual be registered in that particular city.
The individual should then proceed to signing up with appropriate and relevant service organizations (Webb 77). This is important because such organization can help the individual in different ways. It is the first step to networking within the theater industry. These are wide and varied and may include local theater alliances as well as regional or state organizations. The signing up also gives the new theater credibility and exposes it to diverse resources, services and ideas. Such organizations are also useful because they offer credible assistance with respect to creating audience development, setting up computer systems, contacting lawyers to address copy right concerns , marketing, fundraising for various art groups, providing information regarding free audition listings, undertaking ticket sales and so forth. Signing up with relative groups such as rotary groups also implies that the new theater is willing to relate in an effective manner with other organizations that are not necessarily within its field of specification.
The next step would be to make a decision with respect to whether the theater would be profit oriented or non profit oriented. Conte and Langley indicate that although this is a very difficult decision, it needs to be undertaken carefully (81). After making this vital decision, the owner should focus on making funding decisions. This entails the determination and critical evaluation of the sources of the funds in order to underscore the strengths as well as weaknesses of each. The amount of financial resources that are required by any theater company is usually depended on the plans and projects that it wishes to undertake.
After this, the owner of the theater needs to focus on strategizing any potential non-production activities. In this respect, Webb cites that while some play houses might be comfortable with doing one or two shows in a year, others prefer maintaining continual presence in order to improve they visibility and be able to acquire new audiences. Non production activities are wide and varied and typical examples include hosting staged readings, teaching classes, and actively engaging in community outreach programs.
The owner can then create and develop a database containing the name and addresses of potential clients. The database needs to be organized in order to ease its use by the relevant individuals. On completion, the owner should then focus on the audience. S/he should be conversant with the individuals who would vie the plays, what they intend to learn from the plays and how similar companies promote their plays. Usually, such information can be gained form the mailing lists of similar companies. In most cases, these comprise of audiences that the new theater might wish to attract. Finally, the owner needs to focus on the first production. The preceding steps only offer a credible basement upon which the first and following shows would be based. They need to be adhered to strictly in order to attain optimal and sustainable output.
Plan for Starting a New Theater Company
If undertaken over a period of two years, the following plan would provide the most ideal way through which the preceding steps would be implemented. Since the steps are progressive, making a decision regarding the structure and responsibilities of the management would take two months. Developing a mission can take one moth because it is not very involving. Creating the name of the company would also take one month because the process is also not so much involving. Since registering the company takes various legal steps, this can be undertaken over a period of three months.
Opening a bank account can be undertaken over a period of two months. Likewise, signing up with service organizations can also take two months. Then, making decisions with respect to either assuming a profit or non profit status can also take two months. Making funding decisions can take two months as well as strategizing potential non-production activities. Creating a client database can take three months as well as evaluating the needs of the audience. Finally, laying out the groundwork and determining when the shows would be aired can take a month. The final month can be employed by the owner to evaluate the entire process and identify any inconsistencies that can undermine effective functioning of the theater when it becomes operational.
Conte, David and Langley Stephen. Theater Management. USA: Quite Specific Media Group Ltd, 2007. Print.
Mulcahy Lisa. Building the Successful Theater Company. USA: Allworth Press, 2011. Print.
Nelson Reginald and Schwimmer David. How to Start Your Own Theater Company. USA: Chicago Review Press, 2010. Print.
Webb, Duncun. Running Theaters: Best Practices for Leaders and Managers. USA: Allworth Press, 2005.