So you think you want to start a theater company. That is great but the first piece of advice that I am going to give you is “don’t do it”. You are facing a lot of work and your chance of success, in the monetary sense at least, is slim. Having gotten that off my chest, if you still want to do this crazy thing, here is what you are going to need to do.
Form A Plan
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Cheesy as it may be, it is very true.
Decide what direction that your theater is going to go in and what type of audience you are looking for. Think about your competition and what you can do in order to set yourself apart. A theater is a tough thing to open so you need a USP or Unique Selling Point. Without it you will just be white noise in the art community. Do you want to blend in or stand out?
Name Your New Venture
Take your time with this one, because it is very hard to rename your theater in the future.
Choose a name that both fits your style and differentiates yourself from other theaters near you or even nationwide. Who knows how large you could grow, so choose a name that is memorable and unique.
Once you decide on a name, be sure to secure the internet domain name as well. Domains go quickly and if you want a .com, you will have to be flexible with your theater name.
Register Your Company
Most theaters will choose to operate as a non profit. That will allow you to accept donations and save money on taxes but it will also add complexity. You generally must register as a corporation and you may have to have a board of directors. It would be best to seek legal help for all of these details.
Get A Bank Account
Once you have your business registered, you will be able to open a bank account. This is of course crucial to keeping the books straight.
Choose a bank that is local that might work with you in the future on financing.
Seek Out Funding
Maybe you are rich and can self fund this little venture. Maybe, but most theater groups start with a loan. The amount that you need will depend on the scope of your project and what you have on hand. You might be able to get a simple cash loan to provide some simple startup money or you might need a large startup loan.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need enough money to get you through the rough times. Your theater will take time to become popular and many fail due to the simple problem of not having enough start up capital.
Choose Your First Play
Now that all of that business stuff is done, you can choose your first play and begin casting for it. You have a couple of choices here. You can go with an established publisher and purchase the rights to a play or you can look for a new writer with an unpublished script. It depends on what your goals are for your theater.
Once you have your play, you can begin casting, rehearsing and planning for your opening day.
Pretty simple right. Of course, this is a huge oversimplification of the process and once again I urge you not to do it. If you are a glutton for punishment though, carry on. Who knows, you might just have the next highly acclaimed venue.