Centerpieces and Special Reports

Directed to theatre staff and board members, this section offers in-depth analyses, case studies, and resource tools on specific management issues, as well as reports on research conducted by TCG's Research, Policy & Collective Action department. Topics include governance, marketing, development, education, and general management issues and are curated by specialists in each area. Select from the topics below to see all Centerpieces or Special Reports in that category. Please contact Ilana B. Rose, associate director of research & collective action, at with any questions.


December 2010: Snapshot Survey—Fall 2010: Online Ticket Sales and Contributions

Thegrowing importance of technology in marketing and fundraising is a frequent topic of interest in TCG meetings, teleconferences and email requests.This report is a compilation of the responses from the 125 theatres that shared information aboutthe extent to which they are selling tickets and receiving contributions online.

April 2004: Internal Giving: Staffing Strategies for the Development Office

Many not-for-profit theatres around the country are struggling as earned revenues are decreasing and expenses are on the rise. In this environment, the development department is feeling the pressure to do more with less. Seattle Rep's development director Dawn Rains explores the challenges that development directors around the country are currently facing: structuring departments after staff layoffs and/or cutbacks; motivating and retaining staff without financial reward; determining where to focus time and energy; and encouraging everyone in the organization to become a fundraiser.

March 2004: Surviving Crisis: Seattle's ACT Theatre

What would you do if your 38-year-old theatre, which had a reputation for fiscal stability, suddenly found itself $2.7 million in debt and facing imminent closure? Managing director Susan Trapnell traces the development of her theatre's crisis and the incredible tale of board, staff and community loyalty that led to the comeback of ACT Theatre in Seattle.

January 2004: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sarbanes-Oxley but Were Afraid to Ask

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has become the standard for "best practices" in corporate management and governance. BoardSource and the Independent Sector have created a readable guide to the key provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley, explaining clearly their relevance to not-for-profit organizations.

October 2003: The Role of Trustees in Major Gifts Fundraising

Thinking of starting a major gifts fundraising program with your board? Maybe you already have a program in place: If so, are you doing everything you can to prepare and support the board in their efforts? In this issue, Seattle Repertory Theatre's director of development Dawn Rains explores a recent transition in trustee involvement in the theatre's major gifts program and offers a few practical tools for engaging your board in major gifts fundraising. In a second article, Carter Hiestand, who recently joined the Cleveland Play House after many years with Case Western Reserve University, talks about his perceptions of the differences in major gifts fundraising between the worlds of higher education and theatre.

April 2003: Corporate Philanthropy Versus Sponsorship and Cause-Related Marketing: Are There More Corporate Dollars Out There for the Arts?

Many development departments report increased pressure from trustees and managing directors to address the decline in corporate giving over the past two years. Some theatres have started to put more resources into pursuing corporate sponsorship dollars for productions, arts education programs, new play development programs and the like as the only real opportunity to increase contributed revenue from corporations. This Centerpiece features the results of a focus group survey with 28 corporate funders conducted by the Guthrie Theater, as well as articles addressing what sponsors really want and cause-related marketing from the corporate point of view, pointing the way to best position theatres as attractive sponsorship "properties."

October 2002: Endowments in a Changing Economy

This comprehensive Centerpiece features a case study from the midpoint of Seattle Repertory Theatre's endowment campaign, a primer on launching your own endowment program, interviews with development directors across the country about running endowment campaigns in the current economic climate and twelve factors to consider when determining if an endowment is right (or not right) for your organization.

May 2002: Online Fundraising: Moving Beyond the "Give Now!" Button on Your Webpage

What is e-philanthropy? This collection of articles addresses many conditions needed for an integrated approach to online fundraising: the state of online giving nationwide; building an effective online presence via a website and e-newsletter, using the Seattle Repertory Theatre as a case study; proactive and "viral" email campaigns; and a comprehensive list of e-philanthropy resources.

December 2001: A Conversation with Major Supporters on the Arts: What Can Theatres Expect in the Aftermath of September 11?

Since the tragic events of September 11, many theatres—development directors, in particular—have been concerned with many questions regarding the impact of these events on fundraising. Representatives from several major funding institutions answer questions about their continued support of the arts in the wake of September 11.

August 2001: Building an Online Presence for Live Theatre: Experience from the Field

Many theatres across the country are searching for Internet strategies that will enhance the organization's work, extend the patrons' online experience and significantly impact the box office. Three articles examine how theatres can enhance their online presence—building strong objectives, understanding who is online and what they want, creating inventive online promotions, the importance of customer service management and the use of "viral marketing" through email.

April 2001: The New Landscape

While technology is having a significant impact on philanthropy, the core of development is still forming a trusting personal relationship. A discussion between three theatre development directors delivers a snapshot of the highs and lows of fundraising and Susan St. John, in the article Building Relationships: The Ongoing Challenge, explains how new technology must support the cultivation of the personal aspect of fundraising.

April 2000: Transforming the Research Process into a Creative Journey

The term evaluation is heard quite often and appears in most funding applications. Arts organizations feel obligated to conduct evaluations, with only a limited understanding of what the term really means and how to do it. This useful three-part article dispels myths about program evaluation, provides an overview of planning and designing evaluations, and explains how to analyze and report findings to staff, board and funders.

March 2000: The Changing Face of Corporate Fundraising

Corporate funding of the arts has changed dramatically and has become increasingly more competitive. Both grantmakers and grantseekers indicate that theatres need to be more creative and strategic with their approach to corporations. Suggestions include identifying potential sponsors and creating benefits packages and cross-promotional opportunities to meet the objectives of corporate prospects.

November 1999: Selling Your Theatre on the Internet

The Internet is revolutionizing the way we live, work and play, but a quick search reveals that TCG member theatres have utilized the internet to greatly varying degrees. The Internet is a Fundraiser's Dream is a primer on ways to use the web to promote a nonprofit organization, including understanding the internet community, using the internet to find and cultivate funding prospects and questions to ponder while establishing an online presence. The list of useful Internet resources can guide your efforts.

July 1999: Learning to Play a "Best Supporting" Role

Two articles offer motivation for reducing the conflict and encouraging cooperation between development and marketing. "Sex, Drugs…and Opera," from The Wall Street Journal, examines the necessary teamwork involved in the efforts of the opera world in attracting young adults to performances. Building Individual Support: A Shared Responsibility, examines how theatres can increase both earned and contributed income by treating patrons as individuals rather than categories, and by being flexible, smart and supportive of each other's efforts.

May 1999: Development and Marketing: A Collaboration

Two pieces inspire thought about collaborative ventures between marketing and development departments. The first looks at broad cultural trends and phenomena affecting institutional advancement and makes recommendations as to how to respond. The second begins the discussion of the interdependence of marketing and development by proposing a restructuring of duties. Marketing and development directors from the field also provide some excellent ideas and success stories.

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