Switching baskets: growing a sustainable funding model?

copyright Jackie Connelly Photography

copyright Jackie Connelly Photography

A comment just popped up from Jon Stancato, Co-Artistic Director of NYC’s The Stolen Chair Theatre Company, on this recent post about the Open Up and Let Them In concept of Indie Stage, that discusses a recent initiative towards a new funding model that bears examination. I think I love it.

There’s an essential point to be made about fixing the busted down model of theatre by looking to functioning models outside of the theatre industry; adapting methods and practices that are actually working instead of spinning the same old wheels. Stolen Chair is adapting a workable model of community-supported agriculture (similar to the Vancouver Farmers Markets here) to independent theatre. In Jon’s own words, from the comments section:

Glad to read this post and wanted to share something that my company, Stolen Chair, is doing in NYC.  We’ve been given a sizable grant from a program called Economic Revitalization for Performing Artists (from The Field) to adapt the business model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to the theatre (our CST).  A small community of members will be following the development of our newest original work, QUANTUM POETICS, from its earliest zygotic stages until its first public presentation.  Along the way, we’ll be curating a variety of thematically related cultural and educational activities to bring the audience even further into the world of the play.  The community will also have its own private online social network, with exclusive rehearsal footage streamed right from the studio, podcasts, excerpts from the developing script, and, most importantly, a feedback forum where we can dialogue about the work-in-progress even when we can’t do so in person!

The reasons behind the initiative speak to a lot of what you say above about creating a community of informed, invested stakeholders.  We’ve just opened up signups over at http://communitysupportedtheatre.org (where the whole concept is explained in detail).  NYtheatre.com will be “embedding” a writer in the CST for the next 9 months and she’ll be chronicling the progress of the show and the community we’re trying to build.

Here’s to more models!

Jon, thank you so much for sharing. In the clip below you can check out Jon explaining the concept at an “Economic Revitalization for Performing Arts” presentation in New York…

The part that’s got me really excited?

The community will also have its own private online social network, with exclusive rehearsal footage streamed right from the studio, podcasts, excerpts from the developing script, and, most importantly, a feedback forum where we can dialogue about the work-in-progress even when we can’t do so in person!

Love. Love it. Theatre as community building. Isn’t that supposed to be the point? What do you guys think, does the CST model concept have eggs? Er…legs?

Photo courtesy of Jackie Connelly Photography

4 thoughts on “Switching baskets: growing a sustainable funding model?

  1. @Travis, thanks for clarifying.

    @Sabrina, you won’t have to steal it. We’ll happily give the idea to you, as well as some tools to help your organization do it. We have a trademark application in for “Community Supported Theatre” (though I’m not sure if the trademark extends to our northern neighbors) but the concept itself is strictly open source, public domain, there for the grabbing, etc. We’re going to be launching a digital membership in the CST for those who don’t live near NYC but still want to watch the initiative unfold. Email cst[at]stolenchair.org if you want to hear more about that and/or sign up…

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