Flashback Theater Co. (FbTC) will embrace a new season format to accommodate the new normal demanded by COVID 19 restrictions and uncertainty. Mainstage productions are planned to take place in the summer of 2021, and virtual offerings will be available through an online subscription platform, called Patreon, in the meantime.
Hazard County by Allison Moore at the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market. The open air venue allowed for the production to successfully take place with appropriate social distancing measures; performers wore face shields throughout the performance and audience members were encouraged to wear face masks during the performance as well.
“What we learned from Hazard was that while we can find work arounds to put our productions up in the time of COVID, it wasn’t necessarily the ideal experience for creating theater,” explained Sommer Schoch, the Producing Artistic Director of Flashback.
The production overcame several challenges, including tearing down and resetting between farmers market dates, meeting social distancing guidelines, rehearsing online as much as possible, rescheduling rehearsals to accommodate changing guidelines, and even recasting due to possible actor exposure to COVID in the final two weeks of rehearsal.
“The fluidity of the situation meant there could be a new challenge every day,” Schoch continued. “And although we were able to pull it off in the end, there were many audience members who weren’t able to join us and we want to come back with full scale productions when everyone can feel comfortable back in our theater space.”
What that means is the usual three show season has been scaled back to two shows, taking place in June and July of next year. The shows will include The Dollmaker and The Lady’s Not for Burning.
“It actually puts us in a tough spot to move our season back – we rely on the sponsor and ticket income for shows throughout the year to cover our ongoing expenses.”
The solution: follow in the footsteps of subscription based platforms such as Netflix and Hulu.
“There is a platform called Patreon that will allow our supporters to sign up to make a monthly recurring donation to Flashback,” described Schoch. “In turn, we will create virtual content for those supporters: it will be exclusive access for them.”
Exclusive content will include local short plays, podcast episodes, archival footage from past productions, and project updates from Flashback artists. The cost? Tiers begin at just $5 per month for online content. Higher level tiers include season tickets to next summer’s productions and even sponsorship recognition opportunities in the upper tier levels.
Patreon will charge a supporter’s credit card on the first of each month, and you can adjust your level of support at any time. FbTC will receive a payout each month that can then go towards expenses such as rent, utilities, and artist pay.
“In order to have productions next summer, we have to maintain our space now. It has been a blessing to have a landlord willing to work with us throughout this crisis but we have a duty to bear our costs as we move forward,” said Schoch. “My hope is that our supporters can come together and share the load.”
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Flashback Theater has always relied on donations and support from the community. Typically, patrons are asked to donate to the annual fund by mail in the summer and at Christmas. These appeals result in one time donations that go into the general fund.
Giving patrons an option (via Patreon) to spread their donation throughout the year allows them to budget wisely, and secures the future of in-person Flashback productions next summer. In addition, the Patreon platform lets FbTC plan on a stable income month to month. Flashback staff and artists will be able to spend more time on creating theater and patrons will have unique opportunities to engage with the theater company in new and exciting ways all year long.
Supporters can join the Flashback Theater Patreon by visiting www.patreon.com/fbtheater. Questions? Call (888) 394-FBTC ext. 0.