The Essential Theatre Producer’s To-Do List

To send you down the right path to artistic success and achievement, we’ve created this handy dandy to-do list for theatre producers. All the to-do’s you read here have been taken straight out of our production notebooks from the past three years. So, yea, there’s a lot (123 all together), but it can become a tool for you and a guidepost in your journey as an emerging producer.

todolistYes, producing theatre is tough work and it’s not for everyone. However, living in this day in age requires us artists to learn how to make a budget, how to write proposals, how to ask people for money, how to hire the right people, how to balance your books, how to deal with Equity, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

So, to send you down the right path to artistic success and achievement, we’ve created this handy dandy to-do list for theatre producers. All the to-do’s you read here have been taken straight out of our production notebooks from the past three years. So, yea, there’s a lot (123 all together), but it can become a tool for you and a guidepost in your journey as an emerging producer.

Now you might look at some of these to-dos and ask yourself “How the F*CK am I supposed to do that?!?!” That is why we are dedicating the first half of 2014 to giving you tips and tools on how to complete each and every one of these tasks. So, please, SUBSCRIBE to to receive e-mail notifications of all these incredibly useful resources on how to produce your own work.

We hope you find this and our future resource publications helpful.

Happy producing Theatre Suckers!





  • Research available venues
  • Tour available venues
  • Pick a venue – with Director
  • Sign rental agreement with venue management
  • Pay deposit for venue
  • Find and secure rehearsal space
  • Purchase applicable liability insurance for venue and rehearsal space
  • Purchase special occasions liquor license for production and fundraiser venues (if applicable)
  • Pay venue remaining owing from rental agreement


  • Secure rights to play
  • Hire Director
  • Hire Stage Manager – via Director
  • Hire Production Manager – via Director
  • Create preliminary production schedule – via Production Manager
  • Schedule and host auditions – via Director
  • Cast production – via Director
  • Engage all artists and designers with contract
  • Contact CAEA for appropriate production agreement (if engaging Equity artists)
  • Schedule preliminary play read-through – via Director
  • Create rehearsal schedule –  via Stage Manager
  • Hire designers (lighting, costume, sound and set) – via Director
  • Give designers their budgets – via Production Manager
  • Moderate all schedules (rehearsal, design, production) and deadlines – via Production and Stage Managers


  • Find accurate costs for all expenditures (including designers budgets) – via Production Manager
  • Calculate projected ticket sales (estimate at 35% of venue capacity)
  • Estimate potential revenue from all fundraising initiatives
  • Create a share system (if paying artists via profit share structure)
  • Create projected production budget – with Director and Production Manager
  • Update and moderate budget as expenditures incur, moving money as necessary
  • Reimburse everyone for their expenses
  • Finalize budget when all revenue and expenditures are accounted for
  • Archive budget


  • Apply for awards consideration (Jessies in Vancouver, Doras in Toronto)
  • Design production program
  • Print production program
  • Write pre-show address with applicable thank-yous
  • Host opening night reception with food and drinks
  • Film run of production for archive
  • Archive all production material including Stage Management Bible, marketing materials, reviews, filmed run.



  • Brainstorm marketing scheme, aesthetics and message – with Director
  • Hire photographer for production of raw visual marketing materials
  • Hire graphic designer for production of all visual marketing media
  • Hire film maker for production of all film marketing media
  • Hire website designer
  • Create list of arts and culture media personelle
  • Approach media outlets for media sponsorship
  • Create VIP List of people to give comps to for opening night (media, artistic/executive directors, etc.)


  • Set-up and execute photo-shoot with photographer and actors – with Photographer
  • Edit all selected photography material for visual marketing material – via Photographer
  • Design all print material (postcards and posters) – via Graphic Designer
  • Print all visual media (posters, postcards)
  • Set-up and execute interviews of featuring artists (cast, director, designers) – with Filmmaker
  • Set-up and execute filming of production trailer – with Filmmaker
  • Edit all filmed material – via Filmmaker
  • Write blog posts regarding production process for online circulation – via Director and Cast
  • Write press release(s) for production and fundraisers
  • Collect and finalize all marketing material for distribution
  • Build production website featuring all marketing material – via Web Designer
  • Set-up box office (on your own or through production venue)
  • Begin selling tickets (online, in person and over phone)


  • Mount posters in busy or artistic neighborhoods an close by production venue
  • Hand out postcards personally in busy and artistic neighborhoods and close by production venue
  • Leave postcards and posters at local businesses
  • Effectively distribute all printed marketing material
  • Price ad space in local print and online publications
  • Host publicity stunt publically in city centre and invite press
  • Effectively drive traffic from print and guerilla marketing to production website to secure ticket sales
  • Personally invite friends and industry peers through personalized e-mails or phone calls


  • Create theatre company (or production specific) Twitter account
  • Create theatre company (or production specific) Facebook page
  • Create schedule for release of all visual and film marketing materials
  • Create schedule of blog post circulations from director and cast
  • Use HootSuite to organise and pre-schedule all social media postings and marketing material
  • Price online ad space with Google Ads and Facebook
  • Hold social media contests to win comps for ‘sharing’ and ‘retweeting’ marketing material
  • Effectively drive traffic from social media networks to production website to secure ticket sales
  • Circulate all media mentions and reviews of production through all social media networks


  • Engage other theatre producers with current projects for cross-promotion in production programs
  • Make theatre production posting in newspapers and online theatre listings
  • Send press release to all arts and culture media personelle in your municipality
  • Invite reviewers to opening night to review production
  • Gather contact information for all individuals on VIP (comp) list to opening night and make invitations
  • Contract Tourism Agencies to sell half price tickets at designated kiosks (Tickets Tonight in Vancouver, T.O. Tix in Toronto, etc.)



  • Determine how much seed money you can afford (a base amount of money for executing fundraising initiatives, usually from your own pocket)
  • Devise fundraising schedule
  • Brainstorm interesting and marketable fundraising events
  • Research potential commercial sponsorships/donations (form local businesses)
  • Research available grants and public funding (and their due dates)


  • Plan and schedule fundraising events
  • Pick and secure fundraiser venue
  • Secure beer, food and wine sponsor for fundraisers
  • Approach local businesses for donations of products for raffle prizes or silent auction
  • Market your fundraiser events through print and internet advertising
  • Execute fundraising events
  • Distribute donation packages for guests who would like to donate further
  • Collect generated revenue from fundraising events to apply to production budget


  • Create a schedule for writing grants with due dates for each
  • Review the requirements for each grant application
  • Gather all applicable information for writing grants (artistic statements, endorsements, director’s concept and vision, letters of recommendations)
  • Call each grant office to speak with a consultant who can answer any questions you may have
  • Write each grant application (according to each grant’s specifications)
  • Print each grant application (according to each grant’s specifications)
  • Mail or hand deliver each grant application by grant’s due date
  • Wait for response from granting agencies (usually three months from due date)
  • Collect generated revenue from grants to apply to production budget
  • Write financial reports after the conclusion of production (as required)


  • Devise donation mailing campaign
  • Create list of individuals to mail donation request (friends, family, peers, supporters)
  • Gather contact information for each potential donor
  • Open a PayPal account to receive payments online (or use Kickstarter or Indiegogo)
  • Start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign featuring all your most impressive marketing material
  • Film an impressive video that speaks to your needs for the production, how the production will be executed, who will be affected and how generated revenue will be spent
  • Provide fun perks for Indiegogo and Kickstarter individuals donors (based on amount of individual donations)
  • Prepare donation package for distribution (both e-mail and hard copy)
  • Send donation requests to your prepared list of individuals via snail-mail and e-mail (depending on what contact information you could gather)
  • Respond to donations with thank-you cards (or e-mails)
  • Collect generated revenue  from private donations to apply to production budget


  • Create list of local businesses and companies to approach for donation request of money or in-kind gifts
  • Create formal presentation to give to owners of potential commercial sponsors/donors
  • Provide perks like advertising on all print and internet media for commercial donations (their logo on poster, website and program)
  • Approach commercial sponsors for monetary and in-kind donations (for fundraiser and production) and give presentation on how money will be used
  • Respond to donations with thank-you cards (or e-mails)
  • Collect generated revenue from commercial donations to apply to production budget

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Caleb McMullen

Written by Caleb McMullen

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of

There is 1 comment

  • Ryan M says:

    I just want to thank you guys for such an in-depth post. Even producing for several years it’s nice to see such a comprehensive list, and on top of that, one that offers lots of new ideas!

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