Turning Around a Theatre Management Fundraising Nightmare

By Kat Potter

Managing a nonprofit arts organization is an intense labor of love on any given day, with small staffs juggling artistic demands with the administrative need to bring in earned and contributed revenue. Then, just as a semblance of stability is reached — consistent, loyal audiences, reliable donors, internal organizational growth — external factors can pop up unexpectedly to turn everything on its head.

Whether external factors are economic, political, social, or even natural disasters, the outcome has the potential to be similarly devastating for arts organizations fighting to hang on to their audience and donor bases. How can this nightmare scenario be managed? How can an organization take control and avoid these drastic consequences, and perhaps even come out stronger in the end?

Last year, Chad Bauman (Executive Director of Milwaukee Repertory Theater) gathered three stories from theatres who each experienced intense and immediate financial pressure — and detailed how each theatre company responded with swift fundraising and marketing efforts. Each leader's approach was different, but each organization was set up to be poised for quick action, clear communication to the public, and an "all hands on deck" collaborative culture.

Read Chad Bauman's January 2018 article for American Theatre Magazine here.