A Weekly DIGEST for teachers and staff who want to level-up support and funding for MANAGEMENT OF their SCHOOL theatre. 

Issue 32, 2023


Come backstage, and you'll see:

  • Techie Tip of the Week (editorial)
  • Leveling-Up (essential online courses)
  • Dear Techie (advice column)
  • Techie Travesties (funnies)

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Techie Tip of the Week


I’m often asked about what rates to charge outside rentals.  There’s no one answer, but here’s some things to consider…

A public school cannot make a “profit”, however, ideally you want your high school theatre to be self-sustaining – outside events supporting the school’s performing arts.  In order to offset your expenses, you must set your rental fees/rates high enough to cover your costs, but low enough to be competitive.  Remember, other local high school theatres that also act as road-houses are your “competitors”, so the best thing to do is to have a look at your neighboring school theatre’s rental rates and set yours accordingly.

Some things to consider are:

Will you set different rates for district-sponsored events, non-profits, non-profits serving only youth, and commercial - or will there be just one rate.

Will you charge a different rate for rehearsals than for performances?
Rehearsals may need the same tech support, but don’t have a house full of audience members to clean up after.

Will you charge separately for technicians or will they be include in the rates?
Another question to ask yourself is under what conditions will you require lighting, sound and or stage/rigging technicians and how many.  This should be up to your discretion, not the event’s!  How much will you charge for the technicians, a hourly rate or a set fee?  Think about how much you pay your technicians.  Some high school theatres will charge a bit of a “mark-up” (this is not to make a “profit”, as public high schools aren’t allowed to do that, but the extra money is plowed back into the upkeep of the theatre, or used to help offset employment costs).

How much will you charge for custodial?  
Is this an hourly rate or flat fee?  Will there be an hour minimum?  Under what conditions will you require custodial – for instance, if a group is rehearsing on Day 1 and performing on Day 2, would you require custodians to come in after Day 1?

Are there any other rooms that are being used?  
Most high school theatres aren’t built with greenrooms, so often times adjacent classrooms will be rented out.  How much will you charge for room rentals?  

Will you charge for specific equipment use? 
Most theatres provide chairs, tables, music stands, a podium, etc.  It’s usually expected that these type of items will be available, the question is do you include them in your rental rate or will you charge for them separately.  If you are charging for things like chairs and music stands separately it’s a bit hard for the technicians to police whether a group uses 31 or 32 chairs, so be careful not to get too detailed.

Piano tuning
Assuming your theatre has a piano, will you require it to be tuned before or after each rental?  Continually tuning it will become expensive, so you may want to charge for each event that needs it.

Orchestra Pit
If your theatre has an orchestra pit and it’s not on a hydraulic lift, it will be held in place by scaffolding.  This can take three or four technicians about three hours to remove and replace.  That gets pretty expensive, so you should probably charge for any group that wants to use the pit.  After your technicians have removed and replaced your pit cover a couple of times you will have a pretty good idea of how long it takes and how many technicians it takes, so you can figure out a flat fee.

Marley floor
If you have a lot of dance companies that rent your theatre – the last school district I worked at had ten dance companies that would rent the space at least once or twice every year each – you might consider purchasing a Marley floor and then renting it out to them.

You don’t want to nickel and dime everyone who comes into the theatre, because pretty soon they won’t be coming back, but you do want to be able to cover the district expenses of running your theatre, and probably charge a bit of a “profit” so that you can continue to support your theatre for your school students too.  So, consider if there’s anything else you can charge users for, but don’t go overboard.  Some items are expected to be available in a theatre, such as chairs, tables, music stands, but some theatres charge for them.  This can be a logistical nightmare, asking your technicians to become chair police.  Some theatres also charge for the orchestra shells to be set up, but this really is reflected in your technician’s timesheets, that you use to bill your users.

This editorial is the express opinion of Beth Rand, and is not intended for substitution for professional advice regarding your specific situation or circumstances.


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Dear Techie

Dear Techie,

I am in need of guidance.  I am a first-year teacher in a small school district where every student is in every program, and I am in the process of rebuilding the theatre department. 

I placed a musical on the books for the spring because my seniors would love to do one. But, in my school district, band and choir are favored by the principals.  The other day I got pulled into my principal’s office and they said that I am doing too much as a first year teacher. The principal wanted me to change my schedule (cancel and reschedule performance dates that have already been paid for) around the band and choir because they need my students that have chosen to be in my program. 

I am very frustrated and disappointed because the administration won't let me show them what I can do, and is also is putting down a program they are not used to succeeding at such a quick rate.  I'm torn on what to do. 

Torn in MO

Dear Torn,

Obviously this is a very sticky situation.  And it’s not even involving favoritism of the sports department! It sounds like the program you are creating is very popular, and therefore wanted and needed by the students.  

I can’t help but wonder if the physics, biology and chemistry teachers in the science department have this issue?  What about the football, baseball and basketball teams in the sports department?  I think not.

The most effective thing to do, I’ve found, is to educate your admin about the importance and prevalence of the “entertainment industry” in our society.  Get them looking at the big picture. Do they go to movies?  Look at how many actors and crew are on a movie’s credits.  A movie would be a concert, if there were only choirs and bands.

Check out some of my editorials in my Free Resource Library, which you can download at:  The situations aren’t exactly the same as yours, more interdepartmental, but can be applied to your situation. 

Submit your Dear Techie questions to [email protected].  


Techie Travesties

Theatre Terms
In is down, down is front
Out is up, up is back
Off is out, on is in,
Right is left, left is right.

Submit your Bad Theatre Joke or Funnies to [email protected].

And finally, always remember....

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Why the name Cue3Go?  Because often times (not always, of course) in a show, Cue 1 is house-to-half, Cue 2 is blackout, and Cue 3 is lights up!  We hope this newsletter will light you up each week with ideas and actions for managing your high school theatre.

It is PRESETT's mission to provide information to assist in endeavors for safe and functional operations of school theatres. However, PRESETT is not a safety consultant or professional, and any information provided or advocated is not intended to supplement, not supersede, industry safety training. Always consult a theatre safety specialist about your specific situation or circumstances.

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