Making seeing and learning theatre more accessible in the St. Louis region by providing fully subsidized tickets to shows and scholarships for private voice, acting, and dance lessons.
Access vs. Expense
Fly North Theatricals was founded on one principle: Theatre should be accessible for audiences as well as performers because access to theatre is a fundamental right. However...
Theatre is expensive. Seeing it, producing it, and also (as you'll find out if you keep reading) performing in it is expensive... even if the actor is paid.
Fly North Theatricals' Theatre For All Initiative is our imperfect, yet constantly evolving way to help close the gap between the expense of theatre and access to it both in the audience and on stage by way of a two-part approach that aims to solve two problems: The Audience Problem and The Performer Problem.
Part 1: The Audience Problem
The short story:
Theatre used to be more affordable; now it's not. A good local theatre is one of the best engines of a thriving community only if it's accessible to the entire community. The Theatre For All Initiative aims to help make our theatre space more equitable, inclusive, and diverse by working to break down as many financial, marketing, and transportation related barriers as possible to help assure our audiences represent our community.
It's a constant work in progress.
Here's how to help.
Now for the longer story...
The theatre has not always been a luxury item.
A quick unsolicited history lesson: Up until the early 20th century, all the pillars of entertainment that would coalesce to form modern musical theatre like the opera and symphony and vaudeville, though certainly not the paragon of equity, diversity, and inclusion we strive for today-- were actually fairly affordable events to attend. The working class might've been relegated to the balcony but at least the "cheap seats" were, in fact, cheap... not just "less expensive."
This changed within one generation largely during and after World War I, as the western world entered a period of unprecedented immigration, migration, and revolution. Eastern Europe moved west. The American South moved north. And in America, the dominant class began to distance itself physically from the working class. They left the cities but held on to institutions: the politics, the companies... and of course, the theatre.
Ever-richer audiences demanded ever-more luxurious experiences which caused a feedback loop that exists to this day. The average price for an American non-profit theatre is $37. A single ticket for a Broadway show is just under $123. When even a liberal estimate puts groceries for one between $80-90/week, not to mention that over one fifth of St. Louisans live below the poverty line, you begin to see the issue.
Now that feedback loop isn't all bad. The influx of a largely wealthy audience undeniably allowed theatre to become what it is today: a nearly-limitless storytelling medium that is on the cutting edge of technology and awe-inspiring spectacle. The modern American theatre is truly a wonder... but it's a wonder that all deserve to see.
But what does it matter? It's "just theatre."
Theatre isn't just entertainment: it's a community building machine. Theatre-going has long been associated with other civic and economic activity like shopping locally, attending sporting events and even voting. Here in St. Louis, neighborhoods with established local professional theaters tend to have elevated property values. What really matters, though is that theatre builds communities because theatre is made up of other people's stories.
There's another purpose in telling those stories though... and that's representation. The question isn't just "what stories do we want to tell?" More importantly the question is: "To whom do we want to tell these stories?" Everybody, that's who. And that requires more infrastructure than just being "open to the public." That means affordability. That means access to transportation. That means hearing about the show in the first place. And that's all before you get to the door.
An imperfect solution
Underwritten by the generous support of our donors, Fly North Theatricals keeps ticket prices affordable as well as donates 10% of tickets per show to local non-profits in order to reach people who can't fit theatre into their budget. Also, Fly North Theatricals is proud to be located in the Grand Center Arts District: a stop along three of the cities' busiest bus lines (#70, #10, and #94) as well as a short walk away from the Grand MetroLink station which provides access to many parts of greater St. Louis County and the Metro East. This is an imperfect system, no doubt. However, accessibility is always front of mind for us and with every production we are trying to improve.