Theatre advocacy is my passion and I would love for you to join me in making theatre accessible to more people. You already know that your theatre troupe or community theatre is struggling on many levels dealing with COVID protocols. Shows have been canceled, efforts have been made to perform virtually, and these are just two of the challenges.

And yet I bet you’re like me: you still love theatre! You understand the positive benefits of your theatre education. You know the happiness of experiencing live theatre. Here are three ways you can be part of the theatre advocacy movement:

Go Public with Your Theatre Advocacy

Letting others know that theatre is important to you spreads passion for the art that we love! You can use your social media platforms to post about a show you see and how the experience affected you. Or you and your school troupe could volunteer together with the local theatre; get connected to the people who are still doing theatre beyond their high school. Many of these local theatre people can help you network with decision makers in your community. Your passion for theatre and your support of it will benefit your community. Or you can even help teach younger theatre lovers what it means to advocate for what they love.

theatre advocacy STOs

STO Maggie Werthuller, STO Addison Dowdy, and STO Alex Holder teach middle school students at AR Jr. Thespian festival about theatre advocacy.

Put Your Theatre Advocacy Efforts on Display

As impossible as it seems, I keep hearing from many thespian troupes that their school administration does not understand the value of theatre education. You can help them see firsthand why theatre matters. If there is anything Gen Z theatre makers know how to do, it is producing a powerful presentation!

Work together to tell one or two meaningful stories about the positive power your theatre education already has had on you. Explain how the skills you are learning in theatre translate beyond a career in theatre. That they are skills that translate to many meaningful professions.

Plan thoroughly. Schedule a meeting with the decision makers. Rehearse your presentation, even if it will be a short 5-minute story about theatre in your life. Create a packet with information to leave with them when the meeting is over. This packet could include your story. It could also include examples of the fundraising efforts you all have made, the goals you have already reached, and other ideas you are willing to pursue. (Funding is often one of the biggest hurdles for any administration to overcome. Show your willingness to contribute to the need.)

Remember that you may not get an automatic show of support during the meeting; that’s okay. Decisions at the administration level often happen slowly and involve a process. Believe that you have planted a seed through your theatre advocacy that will take root and grow. Your efforts help pave the way for future thespians, too!

Theatre Advocacy Sometimes Means Fundraising

Every theatre group needs money to operate. We know that fundraising can seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. If you are passionate about helping, ask what you can do. Maybe it’s stuffing envelopes for a mailing to previous donors, for example. Or maybe you know a local businessperson who has the financial means to donate. You could meet with your friend and tell them honestly and passionately how theatre benefits you, then ask if they would donate or pay for an ad in the playbill. If this approach does not feel right, you could ask them if they would put up a show poster, connect you to someone in the local media, or even if they would use their social media to talk about supporting your theatre efforts.

Remember that every little bit of money helps to reach the goal. If you and your theatre troupe are trying to raise money to go to the International Thespian Festival, for example, you could host a car wash, produce a talent show, open a lemonade stand, or pet sit! Working together in fundraising goes a long way. If everyone who is helping was able to raise $25, for example, you would get that much closer to your goal in solid strides. 

Every one of us has a special set of skills that are valuable for theatre advocacy! Whether you give your time, talent, or treasures, your efforts will go a long way in helping theatre recover from the COVID protocols in place. For more advice, ideas, and resources, reach out to your STOs, ITOs, or local theatre community.    

Alexandra Holder is 2021-22 ITO and frequent contributor to Dramatics.org. She is passionate about helping others through theatre advocacy. Connect here:
Thespians Instagram: @thespiansociety
Instagram: @_alexandraholder_
Facebook: /Alexandraholder.holder
Email: alexandra.holder@gmail.com

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