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December 08, 2008


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I've only had a chance to read the Sagal follow up letter and not the original fundraising piece, but it appears that the House is making the mistake of saying "The House Is Important" without spelling out exactly WHY the group is important to both the recipient of the ask AND the Chicago Theatre scene.

Their current message seems to imply that the people who get the fundraising request already know about the House, understand the Chicago theatre landscape, understand how theatre is funded, etc. That's probably an incorrect assumption.

So the House is making very bold, provocative (probably deliberately provocative) statements to draw some attention to what they need.

That's understandable and probably smart.

Where it seems they are failing is that they aren't backing up the provocative statements with the strong "case for support" that is a vital part of any fundraising request.

Adam Thurman

One more thing:

By basing the fundraising request on the need to do the next show, the group turned their effort into a referendum on that particular play.

Want to see it? Pay up.

Doesn't interest you? Move on.

So you open your request with these big, provocative statements, then you end up asking money for the relative smallness of a single production.

If you want to go big, then GO BIG.

Paint me a visual of what the theatre will look like in 5 years . . . tell me about the people the theatre will be serving.

Then ask for some money.

You'll probably get more that way.


Piggybacking on Adam's typically astute statements, I would add that neither ask letter seemed to highlight how one of the House's primary strengths as a theater is its ability to tap into young audiences. The House's rise and accolades is in large part due to the work they've done with the next generation, creating plays that resonate with them as audience and doing educational outreach work to help form the next crop of innovative theatre artists. In this way, they are indeed important to the future of the Chicago theatre scene.

The Rose and the Rime was, as I recall, a project that began with House members doing work with college students. Why wasn't this mentioned in the ask? A lot of people who will take a pass on donating for a company that just produces shows will think twice if they know that this same company is not just an artistic powerhouse but a community benefit.

Annie D.

"Rigorously manufactured acts of grace"? Seriously?

That may be the most riconkulously overstated description of theater, any theater, that I've ever read. And I think theater is pretty freaking important. And I like the House. But they're not pulling people from the gutter here...and the Obama comparison makes that even more glaring.

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Thanks, I'm going to have nightmares tonight.

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  • Kris Vire
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