This is How We Do It

It’s that time of year again, folks: Capital Fringe is here! We’re just so crazy in love right now with our artistic concept for ROMEO AND JULIET, which will be on stage at Source Theatre in July. More will most definitely follow about that. But before we launch into the awesome tidbits that come from our (sometimes booze-infused) brainstorming sessions, I want to share the benefits and pitfalls of fundraising for shows like this. After all, it’s the money that we raise that allows us to present the shows to you in the first place.

We here at We Happy Few are big fans of transparency. We want you to see how it works, so I’ll spill some of our secrets. First and most importantly, the box office proceeds IN THEIR ENTIRETY for all We Happy Few shows are divided amongst the artists. We don’t pay our bills from box office proceeds, but rather we prefer to support local theatre artists and those who work so hard on our behalf. In order to make this happen, we have to work really (really) hard to raise all the money we need to stage the show beforehand. In the past we’ve used crowd sourced funding, like Kickstarter, to fund all or a portion of our budget. We’ve written grants, gone to local businesses to sell advertising space, and we’ve put the good ol’ collection jar to work. Currently, we’re working with Fractured Atlas to give tax-deductions for monetary donations in support of the company* – and still with the option to get some nifty gifts as a thank you for your donation, if you check out the Giving Levels tab on the Fractured Atlas page. How fancy!

Over the past year we raised money to put on two really wonderful shows, HAMLET and THE TEMPEST. The money goes toward things like insurance to safeguard our artists and audiences in the spaces we rent; raw materials for set pieces; fabric for costumes (or clothes from a second hand store, which are sometimes less expensive!); printing costs for postcards, posters, and playbills; and our hands-down largest expense, space rental, for rehearsals and performances. Space rental is typically between 50% and 70% of our budget. That’s a lot of dough. It’s true, too, that we will pinch pennies to sew our own costumes, build our own sets, and design our own graphics to allow that money to go where it’s most useful. But it always goes to something important to the show, and we pride ourselves on that.

Here’s the best news of all: research shows that every dollar spent by arts organizations (that’s us!) is re-invested in the local community multiple times. Think about that when you consider a donation to an artist to allow them to do what they do. You’ll be supporting artists and, in turn, the community. And we’re down with that. But I digress…

One of the most important things about fundraising, and sometimes the most difficult, is to keep in mind that we’re putting in the hard work up front to gather donations in order to keep ticket prices low in the end. While our material might not always be appropriate for all ages (like a dark, violent HAMLET), our ticket prices are friendly to all wallets. In order to do that we rely on you, dear reader/friend/audience member/person who lives in our community. Thank you for allowing us to continue a tradition of a vibrant arts program in DC while also propelling our mission forward. Don’t you want your sister, friend, cousin, mom, fraternity brother, mail man, coworker, neighbor, guy who goes to your gym, and woman who does the Sudoku every morning on your bus to experience the same joy you get when you rediscover why Shakespeare and other classic texts are still relevant? Then give us a hand and a donation, or just purchase a ticket to see ROMEO AND JULIET in July. Either way, you’ll be contributing to a fabulous DC arts community and there’s no downside to that!


* We Happy Few Productions is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of We Happy Few Productions must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.  To make a tax-deductible donation online, please visit our Fractured Atlas page here: Thank you for your generous support.


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