For-Profit Theater

I’m in a slow-motion dialogue with Carl Benson and/or Rob Ready of PianoFight about what I called their “for-profit model.” Unlike practically every theater company I’ve ever come across, they spend zero time writing grants.

When I asked him to explain how it all works, I referred to it as “the wave of the future.” Not just because I fully expect a lot of funding for the arts to dry up, but because of the freedom you have to produce work without ever thinking of what funders might want to fund. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what Carl/Rob called out:

What’s liberating about the for-profit model is the freedom it provides to do whatever the hell you want, and change a plan of attack on the fly.

Example: in March of 2008, we expected to have a renter in Studio 250 from April through June, however, a week into March, the renter decided to go to another space. PianoFight was left with a three month hole to fill, and after a few bull session sitting around the theater, we came up with ShortLived, our annual audience judged playwriting competition, which went on to be PianoFight’s highest grossing and attention getting production….

Because the company has not been beholden to funders or a board, we’ve had the opportunity to move quickly and without reproach, and learn along the way what works and what doesn’t.

I highly recommend reading the whole post. I’m not against non-profits, but I am against people automatically assuming they have to be a non-profit without even realizing there’s another option.


2 Replies to “For-Profit Theater”

  1. I want to know more! We are a for profit theatre, but are being pushed into the nonprofit world. We need some colleagues to bounce ideas off of. Please let me know how to get in direct contact with someone! (PS we have been in business for 30 years……)

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