For many theaters, fundraising is a necessary part of yearly operations; theaters often need to raise money just to stay afloat. As you plan fundraising options, consider how you can recruit volunteers and harness the love people in the community have for the building, the performers and its history.
Stick with a performance theme by holding a benefit concert for your theater. Approach people who have been involved in productions and performances over the years and ask them to provide a song or an act; if you can get a big-name performer, you will gain more widespread attention. Because performers often grow emotionally attached to the stages they love, they are often willing to lend their services to help preserve them; this feeling is even more powerful when you find professionals who got their start on your stage. Use a theme for your concert, like a holiday, famous performers at the theater or nostalgia for decades past.
Give your patrons and performers a chance to take home a piece of the theater by holding a memento sale. Make pillows out of the old theater curtains and embroider them with a small note of origin, or turn pieces of an old stage into cutting boards, keychains or other small wooden elements. Print bags and t-shirts emblazoned with the theater name or stickers for car windows. Sell your mementos at the box office and during performances.
For a truly theatrical fundraiser, get your performers and actors to donate their time to teach workshops in all aspects of theater, both onstage and off. Your actors can teach classes about acting, dancing, movement, projection and singing; stage directors and technicians can address lighting, set design and stage management. Advertise to budding actors and actresses, local school drama clubs or people who want to know more about how a theater works. Workshops can also be used as a way to train people who want to volunteer in community productions.
Theaters go unused on many nights during the week when performances are not scheduled. To aid in fundraising efforts, schedule regular movie nights for community members. Project movies on a drop-down screen, and choose films that are never shown on the big screen: old classics, popular musicals or movies with a cult following. On weekends, make it a dinner and a movie night and serve a meal in the ballroom to make it a date night option.