Making a Difference from a Distance: The Story of AD Players’ Virtual Fundraiser

Fundraising is a critical part of sustaining a not-for-profit theatre company, especially when ticket sales account for only 40% of revenue. In a typical year, Houston’s AD Players at The George Theater hosts approximately 400 guests at their annual fundraising gala.  And although 2020 is NOT a typical year, the group knew that the show must go on…

The Challenge

Physical distance requirements meant that the AD Players’ annual gala could not accommodate the usual 400 guests in the theater space; it also meant that guests who typically watched from the cushy chairs at The George Theater would instead occupy seats in their own homes. How could this theatre company use its resources to reach a remote audience, and ensure that the event was not only well-attended, but also met their fundraising goals?

The Solution

The AD Players needed outside expertise to use their existing infrastructure, and adapt a live-theatre aesthetic to the virtual realm. They planned to broadcast over multiple platforms – YouTube Streaming, Vimeo, and Facebook Live – to reach a wide audience, and feature performers in the space at safe distances to entertain guests at home. Our talented staff, many of whom have experience in live theatre, were ready to understudy!  


We also coordinated with in-house lighting technicians to make adjustments for broadcast lighting, and provided a multiview video monitoring feed to the lighting designer that facilitated the adaptation of stage lighting to our camera shots.



Last – and certainly not least – we incorporated the feed from the online auction and pushed it through the broadcast for the audience to see, and provided auction updates in real time to the emcee on stage, so everyone could track donations throughout the event. 



Staging Solutions routed the program audio we received from the board in the theater’s stage management booth through an additional audio console. This ensured both a clean feed from the full band and multiple performers, as well as appropriate compression to the final program audio feed through social media channels.

The Conclusion

Normally the play’s the thing; but in 2020 the spotlight is on live broadcast!  Rather than hosting the usual 400 attendees, the AD Players’ virtual gala benefitted from over 3,000 views through their social media platforms. In addition, they EXCEEDED their anticipated donation amount by almost 20%! 



Bravo! Encore!