You like theater. But do you like it enough to support it beyond the ticket price? Raleigh's Honest Pint Theatre Company is the latest local troupe gambling that the answer is yes.
Theater is often funded one play at a time, as benefactors donate to it and audiences (hopefully) buy enough tickets to put it in the black. But an old model is new again: a growing number of local companies are embracing patronage models in which ongoing donors receive special privileges for supporting the company, not the production. Following the likes of Durham's Little Green Pig, Honest Pint, a five-year-old company notable for its "uncut" Hamlet last year, just launched its patronage page at www.patreon.com/honestpinttheatre.
"In these uncertain economic times and with arts funding in jeopardy, new methods of fundraising must be adopted," codirectors David Henderson and Susannah Hough said in a press release. Patreon supporters set up automatic monthly donations and are rewarded with tickets, branded merchandise, and salon-style home events. Donors will support upcoming productions, like King Lear and The Mystery of Love and Sex, as well as the long-term goals of expanding into underserved regions of the state, raising stipends, and subsidizing tickets for those who can't afford them. Patreon allows theaters to retain independence without taking on nonprofit status or a board of directors.
"So far, Honest Pint has subsisted on one-off donations and our personal money," Hough told the INDY. "Patreon is a way to systematically raise money for the organization and build our network of fans, friends, and other supporters. They know exactly where their money is going. We get to have ongoing conversations with them, which will allow us to discover what our audiences like and don't like and help us find new people who are interested in partnering with us. In other words, we will not be operating in a vacuum."