I was recently having a conversation over coffee with a friend of mine and we were talking about the growth of OnStage Blog.
As I started rattling off the number of people who visit the site, liked our Facebook posts, followed us on Twitter, my friend nodded her head.
"That's great but what are you going to do with that?" she asked.
I told her about all the new areas I wanted to review shows, really get our news channel off the ground, start featuring video content. She didn't seem impressed. I asked her what she was thinking.
"I don't know. It's just that if I had that much of an audience, I would use it to help people."
It was the hardest metaphorical punch in the face I could imagine. Se was right. While I've done everything I can to shed light on issues, expose unethical behavior and promote theatre abroad, what has this site actually done to help others in a tangible way? Help our readers? Help aspiring artists? The truth is, nothing.
But what can a theatre blog do? Just as I started to ask myself that, some news alerts hit my phone.
It was announced that Eastern Kentucky University's theatre program was cut as part of budget belt-tightening.
That crushed me. And then another alert hit my phone.
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre in downtown Little Rock, the state's largest non-profit professional theatre company, had suspended its operations amid financial difficulties. The theater's Board of Directors said that the final production of the 2017-18 season, "God of Carnage," will not be completed.
And that's where I realized we can try to make a difference. Because I'm sick and tired of reading these headlines.
Resources for funding the performing arts seem to be shrinking these days. School systems are funneling funds away from the arts and government powers are eliminating funds to groups like the NEA. Shows are being canceled, teachers are being laid off and theatres are closing their doors.
While I'm fortunate that I work in NYC and have an abundance of theatre to attend, many communities aren't so lucky. If the one theatre in the county closes, countless performance opportunities are lost and those passionate for the performing arts are likely to fall by the wayside. That's a travesty.
We have to do something. Not one more theatre should close its doors because it can't find support. Fundraising is challenging. Even more challenging when you've exhausted all your local resources and patrons. So it's time those who need help, receive it from outside their communities.
So I'm announcing today the launch of OnStage Blog's "Stagehand Project". The mission of this initiative is to raise funds for local theatre companies, high school, and college theatres, community and educational organizations that provide theatrical opportunities to aspiring artists.
Every Friday we'll be announcing a new fundraising effort. Every Friday a new school. Every Friday a new local theatre company. Every Friday an opportunity to help those in need or simply to just lend a helping hand. And throughout that week, we'll be asking for donations to support those groups.
We're asking you, the OnStage Blog reader and loyal theatre lover for help. We know that not everyone has a lot to spare for charitable donations, so we're only going to ask for donations of $1 to $5. I know that's not a lot. But it's the change in your car cupholders, between seat cushions, sitting on your kitchen counters.
While those donation requests sound low, we're hoping they go a long way. This site attracts over 5,000 people per day. Our Facebook page has about 150,000 likes and a newsfeed reach of over 1 million people. Our Instagram has over 3,000 followers and our Twitter just surpassed 1,700. If every person who followed us just donated $1, think of the difference that could make.
We may not be able to save a theatre program from closing, but we can try. And who knows, maybe the small donation we make helps pay for costumes, lights, set materials, licensing fees, etc.
Our intention is to always make sure we can help. We will never fail to support others. So we're going to use the crowdfunding site, GoFundMe, this way even if we don't reach our intended goal, whatever has been donated will still go to these schools and theatres.
If you are a part of a theatre company that could use some help or have a child in a school theatre program in jeopardy, etc, let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with "Stagehand Project" in the subject line. We will initiate a fundraising effort for EVERY request that comes in. We will be doing only one each week but we will get to every request that comes in. If yours is a time-sensitive request, please let us know and we can try to move you to the front of the line.
So I hope you'll join us in lending helpful "stagehands" to those who could use them. I'm excited for the difference this could make and the number of shows that can go on.
Let's work to make sure not one more theatre closes or high school program shuts down. Never again.
We'll be announcing our first fundraising effort this Friday.
- Founder & Editor-in-Chief
- OnStage Blog