Its not what you think. I’m talking about COMMUNITY. I’d like everyone to step back and take a moment and think about what word they automatically associate with the word COMMUNITY. Thought of one? Okay, so you probably came up with associated words like recreation centre right? But your first thought was likely associated with the word AMATEUR.
If you’re associating the word Community with the word amateur, then you likely also associate the word professional with elitism. Now you’re probably saying to me “hell no I don’t do that!”. But how many professional theatre events have you seen or been to which are for “super subscribers” or “gold level donors”? And I totally get the value in those events for donors, subscribers and sponsors. And there is certainly room for these types of events. Don’t get me wrong. But theatre is BELONGING.
BELONGING = COMMUNITY
I’ve cited the study already, but please read it HERE if you haven’t already. For many of us already involved in theatre, the sense of belonging when you join, work, volunteer or watch seems obvious. But to funders who like business plans and bottom lines, proving non-intrinsic value beyond a simple anecdote is difficult.
Theatre is progressive and will not now nor ever be left on the shelf marked irrelevant with your DVD collection and fax machine. We are already seeing professional theatres steering their values to reflect this practice. NAC is offering casual Fridays for events previously associated with top hats and fur coats.
So for those of us who volunteer in community theatre. Stop using the word community as a crutch for not doing professional work. Your work is extremely valuable as it increases the sense of belonging in your community. Which is relevant in an online screen activated culture.