Forget about the NEA: theater companies plan for the worst

The non-profit Theater Communications Group made it to 50 years old at a moment when long-standing models for arts funding (government grants, foundation giving) are drying up, seriously calling into question if non-profit theater will even exist in another 50 years.

Chad M. Bauman

Folks at the conference are supposed to brainstorm around “What If…” Meanwhile, DC’s Arena Stage Director of Communications Chad M. Bauman has stared down those fears, considering that the end of nonprofit status might “allow us to create our own destiny”:

“Would it eliminate our reliance upon a funding source that at best is dubious these days[?] We wouldn’t have to consult the tea leaves to see if we were going to get our rationing of government funds or face the devastation that comes when those funds are cut at the eleventh hour.”

Bauman points out that many corporations have made their sponsorship choices the domain of their marketing departments.  Of course, marketers have different goals than philanthropic officers, but they could be just as fruitful for theaters:
“Corporate sponsorships are primarily about visibility and client entertainment. I would guess that marketing officers aren’t going to care if a theater is a non-profit institution or not when deciding where to spend their sponsorship dollars. They care about the value of the opportunities the theater can provide.”
And what if marketers went a step further and actually suggested programming for their benefiting theater?  They’re notoriously good at pushing their own products.  Or is that a What If too far?