Fundraising Gala: Keeping A Charity Theatre On Its Feet
As a registered charity, the King’s Head Theatre has to raise £100,000 just to keep our doors open. This is a line you’ve certainly heard if you’ve ever seen a show here, spoken as part of our bucket speech before every performance but the reality of that figure, and the necessity of it, can be easy to overlook.
Raising that money every year is vital to producing the work and supporting the artists that come through our doors every day and one of our primary means of doing so (alongside our trusty bucket) is by holding fundraising gala nights around our operas.
This year I, alongside one of our Trainee Resident Directors, Charlie, was given the challenge of organising our gala performance for La Traviata.
Having never been to a gala, let alone worked on one, it was a fairly daunting challenge but one I was excited to approach.
Preparation for the gala began back in August, two months before the night itself. Our Executive Director, Fiona English, well-versed in the wonderful world of galas, talked us through the timeline, what would be needed and what the event would hopefully be like. The centre piece of the evening (other than the performance itself, of course) was to be an Auction and Tombola, with prizes kindly donated from the wonderful local Islington businesses and from our combined theatre contacts who could offer exclusive insider opportunities.
We divided into teams and set out on a mission, much like Arthurian Knights of old, I have to imagine, to find our own Holy Grails in the form of tombola items.
A few weeks, a running tally in the office and a healthy (or not so healthy) dollop of competition later, we had amassed a veritable prize feast of around 75 items. All kindly donated, that ranged from restaurant vouchers and theatre tickets to yoga lessons and even marathon training.
The next step was securing the actual feast as we time-travelled from Arthurian Knights to Medieval kitchen staff. Replacing suckling pig with carrot sticks and hummus, and gourds of mead with bottles of Prosecco. Our small staff office was packed to the rafters with boxes of wine glasses, mini eclairs and the odd scented candle that had strayed from the tombola stack. Being careful not to reverse over a champagne flute in a wheely-chair, and with a last minute realisation that mini bingo machines are harder to operate than the ‘Ages 3+’ label suggests, we were ready for the evening itself.
The timing required an almost military precision.
With the singers having warmed up, we had a limited window to get the tombola set up, drinks poured and food plated before the guests arrived. After many hurried trips up and down our deceptively steep and rather narrow staircase, the doors opened and the night began.
The night was a great success. A spectacular performance of La Traviata, alongside a lively auction led by Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher created a warm and very positive atmosphere. In total we raised nearly £15,000, a fantastic result that, to put into context, could be used to stage three of our Trainee Resident Director showcases, or pay fair wages to all our performers for La Traviata.
The generosity of all involved, either through giving their time, donating a prize or buying a gala ticket, allows us to continue to be one of the most ethical and responsible theatres on the fringe.
And if you’re reading this and feel sad that you missed out don’t worry – you can always come to our Carmen Fundraising Gala in February!
Published in Collaboration with King’s Head Theatre
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