Your Guide to Starting a Theatre Company

Starting a theatre company takes a lot of hard work and dedication and if you want to run such a company, you need to be passionate about theatre to make it work. Motion pictures and television tend to dominate the entertainment industry, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for theatre. You’ll just have to put more effort into getting the right people to notice yours.

If you’re looking for advice on starting a theatre company, some guidance, or just want to be inspired so you can do your best, this article is just what you need. We’ll be looking at the many different elements of starting a theatre company and how you can be successful with your endeavor.

Plan Your Business

The very first step is planning your theatre company. You need to decide upon various elements that will affect the future of your new company. A name has to be chosen and registered, and then you need to think about your company’s branding. How do you want your target audience to perceive your company? Do you know your target market and how you’re going to appeal to them?

You also have to plan things like pricing and special offers you’ll have for your customers, and how to determine these costs so you don’t lose money. The costs involved with opening a theatre company need to be considered as well, and you have to budget accordingly. Remember that you’ll have to pay your performers and other staff members decent wages.

If you can get a business loan, awesome! If not, you’ll have to find creative ways of making sure you’ve got the funds you need to start the business of your dreams. Put all your plans on paper and go through them more than once to make sure you’re not missing anything important.

Form a Legal Entity

One of the most important steps to starting a theatre company is ensuring that you do everything by the book and won’t be breaking any laws. You need to form a legal business structure, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, corporation, or partnership. The type of business structure you choose will impact how you run your company, so think about it carefully. If you’re not sure what these terms mean for your theatre company, you should consult a business lawyer to get a good idea of what’s legally expected of business owners.

It can feel like a tedious, less-than-creative task, but forming a legal entity will make your business life easier and make things more official and make it feel more real for you.

Register for Taxes

Once you’ve taken care of your business’ legal matters, you need to register for taxes. Once again, this is to ensure that you don’t break any laws and get into serious legal trouble. You can’t open your theatre if you haven’t properly registered for taxes.

Depending on the business structure that you chose, you’ll have various options to choose from when it comes to how your business will be taxed. There are benefits to all of the business types, as well as a few drawbacks. It’s recommended that you work with a lawyer when sorting this out so you don’t make any mistakes that could negatively affect you and your business in the future.

Get Business Insurance

You can’t consider starting a theatre company if you don’t plan to have good business insurance. Not only is business insurance necessary to operate your theatre legally, but it will also help you if things go wrong. And things can go very wrong very quickly, unfortunately, so being prepared is crucial to the survival of your business even if you plan meticulously, life is full of unexpected and unfortunate surprises.

There is more than one kind of business insurance to choose from, and they’re all suitable for different businesses. Some businesses have more risk than others, and some just need some basic insurance. A theatre company will need comprehensive insurance, so think carefully before deciding on an option.

Invest in a Parking Lot for Patrons

Your theatre will be a booming business, right? You’ll be attracting people from all over the state with the shows you’ll be offering, so you need to be ready for that many customers. It would be a disaster if you put on awesome shows just for people to leave because they couldn’t find a good parking spot. You have to sort your parking out before you even start planning your first productions. If the current parking lot is too small, or there isn’t one at all, you’ll have to hire a commercial paving service to help you create a neat and spacious parking lot that will accommodate everyone hoping to visit your theatre.

Install an HVAC System

Can you imagine watching a multi-hour-long theatre production just to start sweating or to have your teeth rattling throughout the entire event? That would be horrible and you’d never return to such an establishment. Make sure the audiences at your shows and productions don’t have to bring extra coats or remove clothing because you don’t have a proper HVAC system to keep them cool or heat them up as the weather requires.

If you have an HVAC system already installed, have it inspected and if it’s not in perfect working condition, hire cooling or heating repair services as needed and ensure you have a well-functioning system before opening the theatre’s doors. If there isn’t one, get it installed as soon as possible.

Repair Your Roof

You’ll be the talk of the town with amazing productions being enjoyed under your roof, right? Why else are you starting a theatre company, if not to attract audiences from far and wide because of the quality of what you’re offering? It would be horrifying, then, if that roof were to cave in or sag and injure people or leave them with a bad impression of your theatre. It’s essential that you contact local roofing companies and find one that will inspect your roof for a reasonable fee. If the roof isn’t up to building code standards, sort it out before it becomes a serious and dangerous risk to everyone in the building.

Install Lighting

The lighting in your theatre will affect the kind of ambiance it has. Good lighting is essential, so no one is at risk of injury because they can’t see properly or dark corners are playing home to dangers just waiting to happen. Your theatre’s lighting must be updated, especially if you’re running it in an older building. Chances are you are using an older building because they make for wonderful theatre locations with beautiful architecture, lots of character, and a rich history.

Don’t try to take care of the lighting on your own, you must get qualified and experienced electricians to sort it out for you. They’ll know if the wiring is okay or if it’s necessary to do a complete rewiring for everyone’s safety.

Keep the Auditorium Clean

Your auditorium is going to be a busy place with many people coming and going, and you must do your utmost to keep it clean at all times. You’ll have to hire professional cleaners to come in and take care of the auditorium and keep it shining and looking fabulous. Hiring carpet cleaning services will help ensure that even the toughest stains won’t ruin your flooring or the room itself. Although theatre visitors tend to feel that they’re more sophisticated than the average movie-goer, they’re still human and can accidentally spill things. Be prepared to deal with messes swiftly so your reputation doesn’t suffer when people start complaining and gossiping.

Get Office Supplies

Starting a theatre company is about a lot more than hiring performers and musicians and giving them a stage. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes, and admin will keep you far more busy than shows and productions, unfortunately. You’ll have to ensure you have a well-stocked office with various office supplies like pens, pencils, large laminating sheets, and so much more. These supplies will help you with the day-to-day running of your company.

You may also have to consider working with printer leasing companies because you’ll be doing a lot of printing. Posters, pamphlets, booklets, and other types of informative printing can become quite costly if you don’t have an arrangement with a printing company or a reliable (big) printer you can use.

Invest in Musical Instruments

Your theatre won’t be quite as successful if you don’t have your own musical instruments for performers to use and musicians to get carried away with when their muse has inspired them. You can hire instruments from local piano shops and other music shops, but it might be best to buy instruments that you can keep and use however you wish. Of course, you need to maintain all instruments properly so they will last longer and always sound beautiful. You’ll have to hire professionals to help out with the upkeep of your expensive musical instruments because you can’t entrust them to just anybody. What if they damage the instruments?

Install Security Features

When starting a theatre company, or any business for that matter, you need to plan ahead and always have plans for unexpected and unpleasant surprises. Your building’s security is one way of planning ahead, and you need to take all the measures necessary to ensure it’s safe from criminals as well as disasters or emergencies. If you’re not sure about every safety aspect such as the fire alarms and fire sprinkler system, reach out to reliable fire sprinkler companies and any other services you need to ensure your building is secure, safe, and prepared, no matter what happens.

Offer Theatre Camps and Classes

You shouldn’t limit your theatre to being available only to adults who love performances and shows. Children don’t get exposed to theatres nearly as much as they should, and you can connect with youngsters and get them interested in many creative ways. Offering a theatre-based program to the local summer camp or your own dedicated theatre camps is a great way to introduce theatre to youngsters. You should also provide classes on different topics like the performance arts, music, prop design, and so on. Get children excited about theatre and you have a new generation of supporters that will visit your business.

Create a Business Website

When first dreaming about starting a theatre company, you probably didn’t think about the website you’ll have to design for it. Or perhaps you did and you have many creative ideas on how to design it so you can attract more visitors. Whatever the case, you need to have an official website for your theatre company so people can connect with you online. You should be answering their questions and promoting your latest shows on the website, as well as sharing important information. It’s probably going to be best if you hire a professional website designer to build yours, unless you know a lot, or plan to learn a lot more, about website design.

Market Your Company

Once you’ve done all the necessary planning and started to set up your theatre company, you have to start thinking about how you’re going to market it. How will you spread the word about your theatre so you don’t have empty seats at your shows? There are many ways to market a theatre, and it’s recommended that you start with social media platforms. They’re awesome for spreading awareness and creating a buzz around specific topics. For best results, work with a marketing company so you can focus on running your business rather than coming up with marketing strategies.

Now that you know a lot more about starting a theatre company, the ball is in your hands. You can use all the advice and tips shared here to come up with a thorough business plan and open the theatre of your dreams. Once it’s open, you will have to put in many hours of hard work, but when you see your dedication pay off, you’ll know that every drop of sweat was worth it, and will continue to be worth it.

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