Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Models; New Challenges

Here on the Aha! Blog, we strive to bring you the whole truth about the Aha! projects, from success to challenge to total conceptual reboot.

Take, for example, Theater Grottesco’s original concept of creating an LLC as an alternative capital campaign. Well, it turns out that SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission) laws and regulations limit partners in an LLC to 35 people, each with a net worth of $1,000,000 or more, not including their homes. Suddenly the idea of offering shares to anyone with a spare $1,000 and an interest in downtown Santa Fe real estate seems pretty impractical.

But in true Aha! spirit, Grottesco has some new ideas:

In Model 1, a small group of partners invests substantial funding that is paid back with modest interest in 7-15 years. Investor motivation is less about return than community investment. However, in the current economy, this may present a more lucrative opportunity than standard securities or real estate. And the investments are understood to be risky. They may be transferred to a chosen non-profit organization as a tax-deduction as needed. Initial investments become a challenge to the general public to donate to the project in a conventional capital campaign. A third stage encourages volunteers to help build under the supervision of a licensed and insured contractor.

Model 2 is based upon the Calvert Community Investment model. A 501c3 solicits loans (not investments) of any size which are paid back with modest interest in 7-10 years. A 2nd campaign is then waged to repay the loans, a daunting prospect. On the other hand, with the low-interest loans, a theater could be created and we would be in a much stronger position to raise money the second time around.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update: PWC Trailers are Live!

And you can see them here.

And they look great!

The Trailers Are in the Can. Now What?

As Aha! Blog readers know, Minnesota’s Playwrights Center has been hard at work producing trailers for unproduced plays. Now that filming is done and editing is underway, Erika Eklund reflected on the next steps for these digital synopses:
We are in the final throes of creating a DVD that includes an interview with PWC Producing Artistic Director Polly Carl about the genesis of the idea and the three trailers. The DVDs will be sent to 100 artistic directors across the country as well as our funders and major donors; our hope is to get them out the door by the end of April. At the same time we will launch the trailers and interviews on our website and we will be sending out a card announcing this launch to our mailing list of roughly 2000 people.

Because of the extensive amount of time and energy that the marketing effort has generated, we think we won’t create DVDs for the following trailers—that this will exist as an initial marketing effort for the launch of the project, but the next set of trailers created will be marketed solely through electronic means.

Effects of the project are yet to be determined. We think they’re great. The playwrights are thrilled with them. We are most eager to see—and have yet to see—the effect the trailers have on piquing the interests of artistic directors and literary managers to produce the plays. We have yet to see if this effort to “play Cupid” between script and producer really works.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Theater Grottesco: New Models, New Language

Unbelievably, we have reached the midway point for some of the current Aha! projects. John Flax from Theater Grottesco was kind enough to reflect on the Aha! process so far. Here, he discusses the challenges of learning a “business language” to complete their Do It! project.
Theater Grottesco is used to working with complex multi-dimensional structures in the creation of its artistic projects. But legal terms like “qualified investors”, “securities”, “merit review”, and “wealth transfer” have never been mentioned by creative artists. At this stage, our A-ha! Project has been both a positive anomaly and a burden in much the same way that learning a new language is difficult. Once the language is learned, however, the transformation can begin.

Soon, artistic and administrative staff will join board members in presenting a creative and sophisticated business model to Santa Fe’s leaders of commerce and philanthropy. We anticipate increased awareness and respect for our organization and our art, along with the necessary funds to create a state-of-the-art intimate performance venue which will add another layer of understanding and commitment to Grottesco and to smaller performing arts organizations everywhere, as we create a national model that will hopefully we duplicated and developed by others.

Up next on the Aha! Blog from Theater Grottesco: decoding some really complicated SEC legalese!