It's always a daunting task to go out into a community and essentially beg for money. One goes into this task knowing that a store owner gets asked for their goods on a weekly basis and that they're probably going to greet you with a barely-audible sigh and a wish that you would promptly vacate the premises. But everyone has a passion project. Passion projects need funding. It's how the arts work. It's a necessity.
Photo by dreamsjung viaFlickr
So I started out at Citizen's Bank. I didn't rehearse it. I knew I'd just speak from the heart. This backfired as I opened with a little mumbling and backwards speaking and watched the woman sitting across from me kindly nod as if she were actually understanding, but seeing that she was completely lost. So I slowed down and presented a better pitch: The Players' Ring has been in Portsmouth for over 20 years. We have never done a fundraiser of this magnitude. We are a great group of artists who love the space, work solely as volunteers, and all want to see our venue succeed. The building has needs. We're starting a Kickstarter. We need your help.
Lisa, the branch manager of Citizen's Bank Portsmouth was overwhelmingly sympathetic. She informed me of her small $800 a year budget to spend on smaller non-profits and without any hesitation she wrote out a check for $50. That's 6.5% of her annual budget. And since Kickstarter can't offer gift cards or money as rewards, she wrote this check in blind faith that the Ring will now spend it on an attractive reward to be offered to potential contributors. I thought that was pretty amazing. And it boosted my confidence to keep going.
The next two hours I spent solely on Congress, Market and Daniel St. To my surprise, no one rolled their eyes or sighed at my presence. In fact, once people started to understand the Rings' mission and our needs, almost everyone had their own personal story associated with us: a best friend who acted in a late night, a play they saw that was incredibly moving, or funny, or thought-provoking, a niece who does tech work. People in this community have directly or indirectly benefited from our theater, our mission. I left each store with a genuine "Good Luck."
In one day...in a mere two hours, the following businesses/peeople came on board without any hesitation:
The Players' Ring thanks the above businesses for their support. We are excited about the changes coming up in the near future. We feel blessed to be part of such a great community!