Keep things fresh. In addition to shaking up your programs, ideally, you should also find unique ways to share your mission with new audiences. It can be challenging to reach new people. You already know traditional methods, such as direct mail. You may have experience with slightly more modern strategies like social media. Time-tested tactics, such as events, are fine too. But, these strategies may not generate much public enthusiasm. Here’s the good news: There is another avenue for outreach that is sometimes overlooked by nonprofits — partnering with theatre companies in support of your mission for social change.
Why theatre for social change?
Theatre is actually a great way to reach out to and engage with the public. Like most good storytelling, plays and musicals throughout history have often focused on certain universal themes, such as:
- Prejudice and inequality;
- Injustice and its effects;
- Conflict in all kinds of relationships.
Because of this, theatre is a wonderful way to explore social issues in-depth. And its flexibility means there is a way for nonprofits of all kinds to work with theatre companies to deliver their message. In fact, many theatres already do some community outreach work.
A Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Collaboration is often mentioned as a valuable way for nonprofits to cut costs and increase sustainability. But those aren’t the only benefits! In fact, there are several advantages to working with theatre companies:
- Exposure to a new audience. For many nonprofits, collaborating with a theatre company is an unconventional way to highlight the organization’s goals and work to groups they may not have previously been exposed to. This outreach essentially “doubles” your marketing efforts and could lead to more interest in your organization: increased website visits, new email signups, or even more donations.
- Amplify your advocacy. Whatever your cause, the more people who are talking about it, the easier it is to raise awareness. Often, nonprofits look to partner with government agencies or similar organizations in their advocacy efforts. However, the theatre’s long history of art as protest means that it is a tailor-made arena to help get your message across. Plus, collaborating in a creative environment may lead to more innovative advocacy strategies.
- Brings an issue to life. It’s one thing to read about a social issue. It’s another to see this issue play out in front of you. Similar to the big (or little) screen, the public often becomes more empathetic when they see social justice issues come to life. Theatre, where the action is happening onstage literally in front of an audience, has the potential to provide an even greater impact on social change.
- Keeps the Conversation Going. A partnership with a theatre company doesn’t have to stop once the play (or program) ends. Your organization can keep the conversation going by working with the theatre to host panels, hold interviews, develop discussion guides, host Twitter chats, or other activities.
Social Impact Entertainment & FUNKY BROWN CHICK, Inc.
Our founder is an artist in her own right. Through FUNKY BROWN CHICK, Inc. we bring the joy of entertainment and digital media to the masses to create a better world. One of our activities includes creating and producing a variety of shows that create social change. Our founder’s most recent show, We’re All Going To Fucking Die!, premiered at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and achieved critical acclaim. Based on the principle that “self-care is not self-indulgence,” the show features stories on overcoming anxiety, taking back joy, and having the best sex ever. While the show touches on themes of intimate partner violence, #MeToo, and sexual assault, don’t let the heavier bits scare you! This show is about the soul-enhancing joy we all need in times like these.
FUNKY BROWN CHICK, Inc. also has experience working with nonprofits who want to partner with theatres and share their message. As one example, we led digital strategy to connect the producers, funders, and artists on the Broadway play American Son with audiences at The Opportunity Agenda, #BlackLivesMatter, Latino Justice, Center for Constitutional Rights, and other nonprofits. This was especially important because the play deals with themes of race, community, and police injustice. Collaboration became a way to spark discussion around the issues the organization currently focuses on.
Trust us, they’re looking for you!
Finding unique ways to engage in community outreach may be challenging for many nonprofits. However, collaborating with a theatre company may help your organization reach new audiences and promote its mission. Not to mention — not for nothing — the increased exposure can work both ways!
Theatre companies can benefit from these partnerships as much as nonprofits do. As one example, many theatre companies have made it an objective to attract younger and more diverse audiences. With a smart plan and good execution, your efforts could grab the attention of the coveted Millennial/Gen-Z population. By engaging diverse audiences, a theatre can help to ensure its own longevity.
Excited by the prospect of working with a theatre company to promote social change? Are you a theatre administrator who sees the value in working with nonprofits? Get in touch with us!