Five Tips for Theatres & Performing Arts Groups
Are you a member of a theatre, theatre troupe or performing arts group that would like to take part in Culture Days? Take a look at the following 5 tips for some inspiration on how to make Culture Days work for you!
1. Promote your upcoming season or show
Culture Days is a great opportunity to let the public know about your upcoming performances! Use Culture Days as a teaser; perform a scene, have an open rehearsal, reading, or Q&A with directors, actors or producers for your upcoming work. Remember to sign people up for your newsletter so you can continue your relationship with them post- Culture Days.
Culture Days tip: While your Culture Days activity has to be free for the public to participate in, you can still sell tickets and subscriptions for your upcoming season or shows and sign people up for workshops or classes.
2. Recruit volunteers
Does your theatre or group rely on the work of volunteers? Use Culture Days as an opportunity to recruit new volunteers and celebrate the contribution that volunteers make to your organization. Hold a ‘Meet the Theatre’ event; familiarize the public with your organization, show them the important roles volunteers fulfill in your theatre, where they would work, with whom and what are the perks of volunteering. Have a sign-up sheet and information on various volunteer roles.
Culture Days tip: Have some of your current volunteers on hand to answer questions and promote your volunteer program.
3. Plan cost-effective activities
There are several ways to make your Culture Days activity fit within your budget. Consider the following tips:
- Capitalize on your current programming. It’s likely you already present a number of participatory activities throughout the year such as readings, open rehearsals or tours; simply schedule one of these events on the Culture Days weekend. If you have a ticketed performance or paid class scheduled, consider adding a free component prior to your event to entice people into your paid activity.
- Invite the public for a self-guided backstage tour of your theatre. By allowing the public to guide themselves through your theatre’s backstage areas, you cut down on staffing costs.
- Hold a workshop with one artist or performer. One compelling performer or 'star' can lead the public in a performance workshop. You don't need a whole troupe.
- Engage your volunteers. Volunteers can play an important role in raising your profile in the community. Hosting a Culture Days activity is a great opportunity for your volunteers to share their passion for and commitment to your organization to the public.
4. Show behind-the-scenes labour
Do you want the public to have a better understanding of all that’s involved in preparing a piece of theatre? Hold a workshop that introduces the public to some of the lesser-known behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing a show, such as prop-making or lighting, costume or sound design. You might even be able to use or incorporate the outputs of these workshops in your upcoming performances.
Example: Retired Stratford prop-maker Carolyn Horley held a food-prop making workshop in 2013. This activity gave the public a hands-on opportunity to experience the work that goes into making props for a show.
5. Collaborate with other organizations
Culture Days provides a great opportunity to connect and collaborate with other organizations. Theatre troupes without permanent venues can liven up different locations with their activities. Consider holding your theatre activity in a library, heritage site, café, farmer’s market, or public park. If you have a building or venue, consider inviting other artists and arts and cultural groups into your space to create a hub of activities. You will all benefit from the cross-promotion!
Example: Theatre group Words in Motion presented Memory in the Mud, a roving play that celebrated the lives of the people who helped build Toronto at The Evergreen Brickworks, a community environmental centre in Toronto.
Still stuck for ideas? Consider one of these popular and successful past Culture Days theatre ideas:
- Improv workshops
- Theatre sports
- Workshop a play
- Invite the public to try on costumes
- Engage the public in a collaborative creation
Submitted by Catherine McLeod and Oriana Duinker of Ontario Culture Days and Brandon Moore of Theatre Ontario, 2014