On Sponsorship

(This is an expanded version of the note that went out in the June 8, 2016 LA Newsletter)


For a long time we thought we would do this without taking anything that looked like an ad. I'm a journalist by trade, and the idea of a firewall between Editorial and Advertising is one I hold sacred. Of course, I'm also now the publisher of this here--well, whatever this is--and costs go up and up as we get bigger and bigger. 

Not titanic costs, mind you, but enough to make this something more than a trivial hobby. Because it is not a hobby, it's a calling.

Before we started the podcast we put together the Patreon page. The premise was that if we were going to have a podcast we had to break even on it. We asked. You answered. 50 episodes exist because of the faith of early adopters like Jeff Leinenveber, Marcie Hume, and Jay Bushman. It has been allowed to grow and thrive thanks to everyone who jumped in after.

We are coming up on some interesting milestones, and where there are milestones, there's a need for cash. Namely: the podcast already costs money, and the newsletter is going to end up costing money before long.

An interesting opportunity came up when I was in New York City in April. 

While Zay Amsbury and I were on out way to check out the podplay Her Long Black Hair we ran into our life-long friend Lucas Krech. Lucas is a lighting designer by trade, who cut his teeth in storefront theatre in Berkeley back in the 90s. We also used to run LARPS together. That we should run into Lucas and his small daughter on the way back from the ballet on a Sunday morning near Central Park didn't seem weird at all to any of us. 

As I got to meet his new small human, Lucas asked me if he could have his new company become a sponsor of No Proscenium. I told him I had to think about it. 

You see, I really don't want to take money from any sources that could look like we are compromising our mission: to highlight the best in immersive performance. But I would like to have more resources to expand what we do to more places. To produce better material for all of you. After two months of self-deliberation and talking it over with Zay and the other curators I agreed to do a trial run. Which is why Drafty is our sponsor for June. If we like how this goes, we may continue the relationship. If everyone runs for the hills, it is back to the drawing board. 

Here's what you should know about Drafty: it isn't a show, or an escape room, or a night on the town. That's just not a line I ever want us to have to cross.  I'm just not comfortable taking money that looks like we are trading cash for placement. Nor is Drafty something that is wholly irrelevant to our community like beds or coffee--even though we all need both of those things.

Drafty is a Computer Aided Design program built from the ground up for the unique needs of theatrical designers, assistants, and technicians. It exists because Lucas was sick of CAD programs that cost a lot of money and didn't "get" the design challenges he faced in his own work. It's sort of like No Pro, in that way: I didn't want to miss out on immersive shows, so I made a newsletter to track them. Then we made the podcast, and suddenly everything was way bigger than the pessimistic parts of our personalities thought it would be.

Maybe Drafty can help you, or a designer you know, the way that Drafty is now helping all of us by helping No Pro get a tiny bit ahead of the game. For this month at least. 

This doesn't mean we don't need our Patreon backers, by the way. We are definitely not rolling in it at this point, and I don't want this to become solely dependant on sponsorship. I've watched what's happened to the publishing industry online and it is a fool's game. Especially when we are talking about a scene that is new and growing.

Anyway, this has now gone on way longer than expected, but I want to make this crystal clear: this doesn't mean that I get to quit my day job, but it does mean that we can start to spruce up the joint a little. Maybe even pay a writer or two down the line as opposed to just begging friends for favors.

Nor are we actively courting sponsors. This is a trial run, and there's only so much room in these things as it is. If the newsletters and the podcasts suddenly turned into ad circulars I wouldn't be interested in them, why the hell would you want to deal with them? 

In any case: I hope you continue to enjoy the newsletters and podcast.

I'll see you at the show,

Noah Nelson