The Haps: Development

by August Schulenburg

in The Haps

Post image for The Haps: Development

This post is the second in a regular series highlighting what’s happening in the various aspects of producing theatre. Now up: Development!

Throw Up Your Sweaty Night Caps: Crowdsourcing corporate philanthropy is the major story in development right now, and depending on who you read, projects like Pepsi Refresh and Chase Community Giving are either groundbreaking or dealbreaking. While some of the protests sound a little like Casca in Julius Caesar, concerned the rabblement’s chapped hands might sully our pristine philanthropy; others worry about the message such competitions send to audiences. As Nick Kennan wrote on 2AMT, “by playing this grant to win, we’re necessarily devaluing ourselves and our relationships to our fans.”

However, in his excellent post summarizing these conversations, Ian David Moss points out that “the decisions of our corporate and foundation funders have an enormous impact in shaping the field, yet in most cases less than a half-dozen people have meaningful input into those decisions.” He goes on to draw a distinction between crowdsourced philanthropy and popularity context philanthropy.

What might that distinction look like?

Rocket Kick GoGo: No, that’s not a Jets lyric from West Side Story;  it’s some of the alternatives to corporate crowdsourced philanthropy. Rockethub, Kickstarter and IndieGoGo offer companies without development infrastructure the capacity to carry out project based fund raising. Are they effective? Some say yes.

If you want to roll with the rabble, but already have the devo-structure, it may be worth following the examples of Kiva and DonorsChoose, who are finding innovative online ways to connect donors more directly to the lives they’re changing. Or dive into Crowdrise, Edward Norton’s social media network that embraces a more irreverent approach to giving, reminding us “If you don’t give back, no one will like you”.

Richie Rich On The Road To Damascus: Of course, who needs a crowd when you have a billionaire? The Giving Pledge, a group of billionaire’s led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, have pledged to give half of their net worth away to philanthropy. While the website focuses on non-arts charities, some of the donors have a history of giving to the arts.

Now For Something Completely Different: Then again, maybe all we need is more parking meters. Or more video games. Or more Keith Powell’s* taking up challenges from Alyssa Milano**.  Or a better map.

That’s the development haps for Monday, August 2rd. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.


By day, Gus is the mild-mannered Circulation and Customer Service Manager at TCG. By night, he transforms into August Schulenburg: playwright, actor, director, and Artistic Director of Flux Theatre Ensemble. His produced plays include Riding the Bull, Carrin Beginning, Other Bodies, Rue, The Lesser Seductions of History, and Jacob’s House.

(*Full disclosure: Keith Powell is my friend. **Alyssa Milano is not.)