In CTA’s back office, in the Board meetings, in the social gatherings at local restaurants after the Board meetings, one topic keeps coming up among CTA’s Board of Directors and staff: What can we do to make participating in live theatre accessible to everyone, regardless of income level?
It’s no secret that CTA charges a production fee upon being cast in a show. It’s a significant portion of our budget—along with ticket sales, sponsorships and donations—and goes a long way in putting on the shows, as well as keeping the theatre running. While CTA’s operating budget relies on these fees, the Board also recognizes that it can be prohibitive for some children, to the point where they might not even consider auditioning.
The first sentence of CTA’s mission statement is clear. We are “dedicated to nurturing the growth and development of the love of theatre in children,” and that doesn’t mean just the children who can afford to participate. At the start of the 2019-2020 season, the Board of Directors consciously amended the bylaws to eliminate the membership requirement, meaning that no one needed to pay $20 to simply audition for a show at CTA. However, we knew that wasn’t enough. While CTA has always been willing to work with families to afford the production fees, whether it was through a payment plan or otherwise, it’s never been appropriately publicized.
That had to change—starting with Tarzan, The Stage Musical, auditions and continuing through auditions for The Hobbit on October 19 and 20, as well as Disney’s Frozen Jr. in January, we’ve added language to audition forms, audition notices, the audition page on our website with the aim of making one thing clear: If the production fee—or the tuition for a class, workshop or camp—poses a financial hardship, partial and full scholarships, as well as payment plans, are available. A confidential scholarship application will be available in the registration packet at the first rehearsal, and the CTA producers are available to discreetly discuss how participating in the show can be affordable for all families.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and CTA loves being part of your family’s village. Let’s make our village a little bit bigger by helping all children experience the magic of live theatre.