Come One, Come All: Funding Available to Help Sustain L.A. Theater

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By Steven Leigh Morris

On Mondays April 16 and April 23, from 7-10 p.m., LA STAGE Alliance is hosting community meet-ups aimed to help guide those interested in participating in funded opportunities to develop any of four collaborative models to help sustain LA theater. Admission is free. RSVP to LA STAGE Alliance is located at 4200 Chevy Chase Drive, Los Angeles. If we’re able to proceed, this will be Phase II of the LA Theater Sustainability Program.

(Phase I was conceived by The Ahmanson Theater and administered by LA STAGE Alliance and NPO Solutions.)

If you’re an individual, here’s an opportunity to partner with an organization that’s interested in any of the four proposed models (listed below). If you represent an organization, here’s an opportunity to learn more about the four models, and how to apply for funding to the NonProfit Sustainability Initiative (NSI). As an organization, you can apply as a lead organization or as a partner organization.

If applications are approved, the organizations will be funded to hire a facilitator, chosen by the organization, in order to deep-dive into the pros and cons of the model being applied for.

This is a community/grantee-driven program, meaning we can’t specify what programs are moving forward until the community lets us know its interest. But here are some bullet-points of clarification:

  • For Phase II funding, there are four models involving collaboration being pursued: 1) TeenTix (a flex-pass program for teenagers to use unsold tickets), 2) Spectator School (an institute for audiences to better understand the theater that’s happening in their own backyards), 3) a city-wide festival, and 4) some kind of residency program. 
  • TeenTix and Spectator School are being discussed at the April 16 meet-up. The festival and residencies are being discussed on April 23. 
  • These four models emerged from months of facilitated discussions among 12 arts organizations (mostly theaters) of all shapes, sizes, and missions, during Phase I. 
  • We now want to both refine and expand the discussion: Expand it to include more participants; refine it to close in on the pros and cons (i.e. the viability) of each model.
  • We’re seeking clusters of organizations who wish to digdeeper into each model, unmasking through collective experience what might work and what could go wrong. In short: deeper discussions that can pave the way for implementation.
  • Of course, you won’t know who else is interested in a model that interests you — that’s what the meetups are for — so we, as an alliance, can introduce you to like-minded organizations to begin the planning process.
  • For groups of organizations that would like to seek funding to hire a facilitator to help negotiate the terms of the partnership, NSI may be a source of funding. We will discuss the specifics of the NSI application at the meet-ups. As described on the NSI website: The NSI application is designed for organizations ready to move into structured discussions aimed at developing a strategic partnership. Organizations and leadership that receive NSI funds are not committing to a specific outcome, but rather to enter into good faith negotiations. The goal is to ensure that organizations have every opportunity to thoroughly explore all issues associated with a strategic partnership and to reach an informed decision that best serves their mission and how they serve the community.
  • For grant administrative purposes, potential partners/organizations will submit a joint application. One organization will be identified as the applicant and the other organization(s) as the partner(s). In some cases LA STAGE Alliance may serve as the applicant. The applicant organization receives a grant for the partners to hire a consultant of their choice, who supports the exploration and negotiation of issues associated with the form of partnership being pursued.
  • We wish we could be more specific about intended outcomes, but the outcomes depend entirely on the engagement of the community, individuals, and organizations working collectively. We won’t know the realities of how this will work until partners self-identify at these meet-ups.

For more information, feel free to contact me at

Steven Leigh Morris

Steven Leigh Morris

Steven is the Executive Director of LA STAGE Alliance, and is the founding editor of the community-funded digital arts venture Stage Raw ( Morris chaired the Jury for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2012, and served on that Jury in 2011. He received the Critic of the Year prize for his print reviews by the National Entertainment Journalism Awards in 2011.