For $500, theater fans can have their name permanently affixed to one of the Urbanite's 55 seats.
'Tis the season where philanthropy groups and non-profits extend a hand to raise money for themselves and their fellow man. Arts organizations are no different, and instead of just a simple donation, the Urbanite Theatre is offering theatrical eternity as an award for potential givers.
At the end of its first calendar year as Sarasota's newest theater, the young Urbanite has now entered the time-honored fundraising tradition of the arts: letting donors putting their names on any and everything possible. Now, the cozy, 55-seat theater doesn't have an opulent lobby or meeting rooms for donors to place their names. What they do have, though, are those 55 seats.
"Fundraising is a perpetual need for a theater," says Brendan Ragan, co-founding artistic director of the Urbanite Theatre. "We know that a lot of non-profits do a push at the end of the year, and instead of just doing a general donation asking round, we thought it’d be a good idea to offer a specific opportunity and gift for donors to be a part of the theater forever."
For $500, passionate Urbanites can have their or any name attached to the back of any of the theater's seats. Though the Urbanite's seats aren't bolted to the floor like in traditional theaters and their arrangement changes from show to show, Ragan says that donors' named seats will always be placed in the front rows.
"We wanted to finish this year on a high note and we wanted to offer more than just general operating gifts to potential donors," says Ragan. "The gift doesn't guarantee seating, but this is just our way for people to know about donors' love of theatre for years to come."
The drive has only been going on for less than a week and already nine seats have been named. Ragan and the Urbanite Theatre staff hope to have 25 seats named by the end of 2015. And although they don't have a large facility, Ragan says they are exploring having the bricks outside the theater, the second-floor rehearsal room and even the giant exterior graffiti mural available to be named and sponsored.
For interested theater fanatics, you can call the Urbanite Theater at 941-321-1397 or visit urbanitetheatre.com.