Five Things You Should Know About Starting a Non-Profit Theatre Company in NYC From The Collective NY

Last updated September 13th, 2018 by Ross Degraw & Sayra Player
Five Things You Should Know About Starting a Non-Profit The…

Photo by Brian Hotaling & Austin Donohue

The Collective NY makes their return to producing theatre this season with the world premiere of David Thigpen’s Hurricane Party. Founded in 2007, the not-for-profit production company was established in the tradition of the Group Theatre and through a permanent ensemble creates contemporary work that is emotionally truthful, socially relevant, and defiantly accessible. (Emmy and Tony Award nominee Amy Schumer is a founding member!) The timely new play Hurricane Party is set in a southern coastal community in the advent of a major storm and runs at the Cherry Lane Theatre Studio Space through October 7.

Hurricane Party-Play-Theatre-Collective NY-Off Broadway
Photo by Austin Donohue

BroadwayBox caught up The Collective NY’s co-artistic directors, Ross Degraw and Sayra Player, to learn from them five things everyone thinking of starting a non-profit theatre company should know.

1. Get organized. Get organized now and if you don’t know how to organize, learn. If you aren’t organized, you are going to miss something big. Trust me. 

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2. Surround yourself with the best of the best.  Make sure they are people you enjoy being with because they will become your chosen family. Encourage every member of your company to be more than they can imagine. Utilize and reflect the strengths in everyone around you. Take turns realizing each other’s visions. Make time to think deeply about how you can help someone else in your company. If you spend enough time nurturing your community, when it is go time on a project, you will have an ace for everything you need and they will care about the product, because it is also theirs. 

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3. Learn to ask for things—for money, for help (no one can do everything!), asking for explanations to things you don’t know about. And learn to say no as well. Theatre people are people pleasers and you need to be able to tell people no sometimes—no to more money, no to a project, no to more coffee.

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4. Know who you are. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be honest about them. Surround yourself with people who are strong where you are weak. Also know who you are as a company and be specific. The industry is full of people who “just love theatre and can’t imagine doing anything else.” What do you offer that is unique to who you are as a group?

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5. Don’t wait. Don’t wait to do anything. If it’s answer an email, make a call, or ask a question. If you wait it will only pile up, because it is non-stop once you take the leap. Also, don’t wait to take the leap. If you want it, do it. And do, do, do! Don't worry about being perfect, something is always bound to go wrong, but the more you do, the more will go right. Take risks and give it your all. 

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Check out the explosive new play Hurricane Party at off-Broadway's Cherry Lane Theatre Studio Space through October 7.