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Please Help Us Fast. We're Begging You

The MTI Show Collection
Related MTI Shows: Godspell 
Anthony Marchetta:

Hello guys,

I'm a member of a group of teenagers who are trying to put on a musical where all of our proceeds go to charity. I called MTI and asked about the cost (an extremely rough estimate), and we were told, with the 400 dollar refundable, about 950 dollars to perform Godspell, plus royalties (we're only planning on one show). Okay! That sounds like something we could reasonably fundraise for! A good start. And we got a tech director and music director to volunteer for free!

And that's about all the good luck we've had since. Our hope is to perform the show the second week of July. We've been working-hard!-since about mid-October, with very little to show for it. My friend and I made calls to local schools and theaters, asking about availability and pricing. Currently we have two things we're looking at for a performance space. One is our old High School auditorium (we're all in college). We need to pay for liability insurance and we're waiting for a response from the head of the alumni department to figure out what that would cost.

The other place is a theater we can rent out for just fifty dollars a night but that seats only 72 people. Since we're looking to use another space to rehearse, we would only need it for about 7 nights. The problem is that, given that we have only one show, this would make us an incredibly small amount of money. But you make do with what you have to.

Here's the issue we have: Let's say we have to use the blackbox theater, and somehow we manage to raise the money to pay for the show. Now what? We're not an organization, we're just a one time charity event. It's this one show and then we're finished. So how do we rent the script if we're not an organization? What do we do? We're trying to see if we could somehow associate with a Church, but we don't know how feasible that is.

Now, if we were to associate with the High School then this would be easier-but then we'd have to pay for insurance for an 800 seat auditorium that we'll be using for seven nights at MINIMUM (anybody know what that would cost, by the way? We're waiting on a quote).

So what can we do, since we're not an official organization? Are there any sorts of methods we can use to rent out the script?

Thanks all of you SO MUCH just for reading this megablock of words, let alone trying to help us out! You have no idea how much we all appreciate everything.

-Anthony

(462 days ago)
Logan Davison:

Hi Anthony,

As far as I'm aware MTI doesn't ask for verification that you are an actual organization (like a tax number or anything) so you could just make up a name for your group and send in an application.  They probably don't accept personal checks though so you would need a credit/debit card.

I would highly suggest you try to associate with a church or community theatre group in your area.  Their name will not only help you in the insurance arena (they probably already have some sort of liability insurance) but also in promotions and marketing.  You could even explain the situation and that you're just looking for some help to get off the ground.  In some of my past experiences producing Godspell we would solicit churches for group ticket sales and some didn't understand the show (one church thought it was being performed in the nude) so make sure they understand your intentions and artistic interpretation.

You asked about the cost of renting a theatre.  In my experience performance days can be around $650-800 and rehearsals are $150-300 - some have packages available and you'll also need tech/load-in time.

Now remember that any money made over a certain amount does have to filed on tax paperwork and that sort of great stuff and I really have no idea on how that works but I would suggest you speak to a Treasurer of an organization in your area, whether it be church, community theatre or even the local Chamber of Commerce may be able to offer some assistance.

Hope I could be of some help Anthony and I wish you the best in your endeavor!

(458 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

Thank you, this has been helpful.

Here's a question for you: For one show is it worth it to use a 72 seat theater at a price of ten dollars a ticket? All proceeds are going to charity, but at maximum that's a 720 dollar profit. Not exactly a lot compared to the cost (and effort) of putting it on. Or should we hold out for an area that could fit more people?

(458 days ago)
Scott Frost:

Anthony,
Thanks for the questions.  To become an organization for MTI you need to apply on some sort of official letterhead.  After that the price for materials, royalties etc is all figured out based on the number of seats, ticket price, number of shows etc.  All of this would need to be figured out before you can apply for a license for Godspell so know that depending on the size theatre you choose it will affect the final cost of the license. 

If you can find a theatre that seats more people I would recommend you go for it.  But also know that any donation is appreciated.  This is a great thing for you and your friends to do together and accomplish both to help an organization in your area but also to build your resume, strenthen your relationships between friends and feel a sense of accomplishment in producing a musical between the group.  I actually did this when I was a senior in high school and it was extremely rewarding for everyone involved and we were able to raise a few thousand dollars for an organzation in my home town.  It is good to set a goal of what you want to raise, but don't set it too high that you are stressing throughout the entire experience.  This should be an enjoyable rewarding experience for you all.

Lastly, I want to remind you that local businesses, friends and family can be a big help in raising the funds for your production.  Set up a simple ad and patron form and spend several weekend afternoons going out in small groups to stop at local businesses asking them to put an ad in your program or be a sponsor/patron for the production.  Also, if you make it clear that this is a fundraiser and have the actors at the doors after the performance I am sure you could get additional funds above and beyond the ticket price all of which will help to cover your costs and add to the final amount that you are donating to the charity.

Hope this helps.  Good luck and let us know here at MTI how it goes!

(458 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

Thank you for the help! Currently we may be able to rent out a much larger 800 seat High School theater for a pretty reasonable 500 dollars. Our only problem is finding an organization who will let us use their letterhead.

(458 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

Here's a good, important, question: How long does it take to get the scripts and scores after they're ordered?

(457 days ago)
Scott Frost:

No matter when you license a show the materials are shipped to arrive 10 weeks before the production opens, or in your case- 10 weeks before your performance.  You can get them earlier but that is a weekly charge which you probably don't want to ensue.

(456 days ago)
Scott Frost:

You can technically create an organization as long as everyone in the group is over 18,  but the problem comes in when you get your refund check after the materials are returned.  When that check comes it will be made out to your organization, which you probably aren't planning on creating a bank account for.  If you were planning to go that route then you would be able to create your letterhead and create your own organization in our system.  Hope this all helps.

(456 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

This helps a LOT, thank you. I did a lot of research yeseterday (about four hours worth) in the legal issues and this tallies up with my conclusion, so thank you!

(456 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

So, my current update: After doing a lot of legal research, I THINK we're small enough that we don't need to actually register as a charity, and we're planning to be an unincorporated organization so we don't need to register as one of them (a corporation) either.

Of course, we're going to run this by a few reliable sources to make sure.

But if this checks out, we can finally start fundraising, so fingers crossed!

(455 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

WE GOT A CHURCH TO HELP US.

As you can see I'm excited. This is GREAT news, it makes life so much easier.

(455 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

Depressing news...We just learned that another Summer theater group is doing Les Mis. We're going to lose a LOT of potential auditioners to that...

(452 days ago)
Anthony Marchetta:

GREAT NEW: We have secured a theater, director, music director, stage manor, AND have finally gotten enough money to cover the rights to the show!

Great news! Thanks to everybody who gave advice, you guys were great.

(390 days ago)