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Supporting your Local Theatre Scene

Supporting live theatre in your community does far more than simply cover the cost of putting on a production. The economic impact of allowing theatres the means to do what they do has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the local economy. The spin-off economic activity from having a theatre in your community will benefit local businesses, improve the standard of living and help to build a thriving cultural scene.

The numbers vary depending on which country or study you look at, but a quick Google search on “the economic impact of live theatre” yields a conservative consensus that for every dollar that is spent on a theatre ticket at least another 5 dollars are spent in the community, whether on dining, accommodations, or other pre and post show activities. Every single dollar. That means that even at a bargain-basement theatre ticket price of $10 another $50 in economic activity is being generated every time a ticket is sold. Given that theatre tickets are usually much more expensive, and given the sheer number of theatre companies and productions that may be operating in a given community, the economic benefits of supporting the local theatre scene become obvious.

But obviously it’s not just about dollars and cents. The positive social benefits of attending live theatre are enormous, second only to the positive social benefits of actually getting involved in the theatre and helping to bring shows to the stage. Whether it’s onstage or off, the personal growth and sense of accomplishment that comes with opening night is hard to find anywhere else. Theatre teaches new skills, it empowers those who are shy, it begins friendships that last a lifetime. People have found work, found joy, and even found love just by coming out and getting involved in a play. People who get involved in theatre have more confidence, are more comfortable speaking to and working with large groups of people, and on the whole tend to lead rich, diverse, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Local theatres often have plenty of opportunities for enthusiastic people with no prior experience to get involved, and it’s been where many future actors, directors, designers and technicians have gotten their starts. It has also become a true “second home” for many, again perhaps by being in shows, but sometimes just by volunteering as an usher, house manager or auxiliary crew member. For some people it’s simply the sense of ownership and pride that comes with entertaining others that is the most satisfying aspect of getting involved.

In supporting your local theatre you also be support the development of your national literary voice. If there’s a theatre in your community chances are there will be aspiring playwrights that surround it, even if the theatre isn’t intended as a place for developing new works. Poets, novelists and many other writers naturally gravitate to the creative environment of a theatre, as do visual artists and other people who are vital to a flourishing cultural industry.

It was Polish theatre director Jerry Grotowski, who said “all you really need for theatre to happen is an actor and an audience.” Supporting your local theatre scene doesn’t require a lot of time, energy or infusions of public cash. All you have to do is buy a ticket, and become that audience. If there’s a theatre in your community then it’s a given that the actors will be waiting for you there with open arms.

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