Crowdfunding 101: How to raise funding for your small theatre company

Posted on 14 June, 2017 by Team Wishberry

The term fringe in the world of theatre is used to loosely define small-scale productions that do not have major backers. These theatres or theatre groups are generally made up of people who have a passion for the art form and are willing to go any lengths to see to it that they are able to mount their productions. In India, fringe theatre has been in relevance for many, many years and it is heartening to see that their audiences’ appreciation gives them the required momentum to go on.

Crowdfunding is a novel way in which small theatre groups can ensure that they are able to stage their plays.

Following are some of the reasons why crowdfunding works in general:

  • By launching the campaign you automatically begin marketing your play even before it has been staged.
  • Your backers are also your audience — you don’t have to worry about the seats remaining empty at the auditorium!

Now, let’s look at successfully crowdfunded theatre campaigns by small groups or individuals!

Brishti, Finally...

When Anindita Bhadra and Ayan Banerjee, both professors at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, decided to bring their play Brishti, finally... to Kolkata, they were unable to find backers. They were spending money from their pockets and had exhausted options when it came to asking friends for monetary help. That’s when they found Wishberry and decided to crowdfund for their play. From learning how to film and edit for their pitch video, to enlisting the services of their young son as an additional DoP, the duo ensured that their pitch video made its point. The other thing that they did was to actively talk about their campaign on social media. Anindita says that she would give herself daily targets about posting on Facebook. They achieved their target of Rs. 2 Lakhs with the help of 68 backers and Brishti, finally... was ‘finally’ successfully staged.

Here’s Anindita talking about the process of crowdfunding:

And here’s their pitch video:

Critical Ambition’s Blink

When Swansea-based fringe theatre company Critical Ambition decided to mount the production of Blink, a modern-day love story, they turned to crowdfunding. Explaining their need to appeal to the masses for funds, the theatre group stressed on the need to bring quality theatre to Swansea, a coastal county in Wales, which in turn would help in engaging the youth and getting them interested in art. They banked on the belief that Swansea’s local community would want to donate to their campaign in a bid to make their county, truly Wales’ ‘second’ city. The other things that worked in their favour were the approval from renowned playwright Phil Porter himself to stage Blink and association with established fringe theatre names such as The Other Room.

Image Courtesy Kickstarter

Oh the Humanity

Paul Lichtenstern had staged Oh the Humanity as a young student in college. When he decided to form the fringe theatre group End of Moving Walkway along with Tahmid Chowdhury (Producer), Catherine Mackworth (Assistant Producer), George Linfield (Head of Marketing) and Lottie Patterson (Head of Development), they were all 21 years or younger. However, they wanted to take Oh the Humanity to Tabard Theatre in London, they decided to crowdfund. Their pitch was simple: they were a young group which needed the community’s help. But, they were not ‘begging’ for it. They succinctly put forward the reasons why they deserved it. For example, they mentioned that, Sir Trevor Nunn, a highly respected theatre personality in the UK, said the following about Oh the Humanity: I laughed, I cried, I recognised and I celebrated. Oh our humanity indeed. I highly recommend. The ploy worked and the project raised £5,635.