Open Forum

ITS Costs

  • 1.  ITS Costs

    Posted 30 days ago
    I’m a new troupe leader and trying to grapple all of the distance learning and more to keep our company going. We have endured a lot the past two years that I won’t get into, but I could use some help with managing some financial pieces to ITS.
    There are all sorts of awards, stars, certificates and more that come along with being inducted into ITS and continuing gaining points after induction. How do you manage the costs for it all? I have a small enough budget as it is but I would hate to miss out on giving students appropriate honors and status that deserve in the company. How do you financially manage all the purchases that happen within the society? Thanks for any help!

    Nathan Jourdan

    Forest Hill MD

  • 2.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    I always charge new inductess a fee--it's generally enough to pay for their induction fee, their pin and their stars, with a few dollars extra.  I also ask seniors to pay for their honors regalia.  Between those initial fees, and the senior costs, I don't usually have to take too much extra to pay for the other stuff.

    Jennifer Miguel
    Hampton, VA

  • 3.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    I also do an upcharge for the induction.  That covers the rush shipping that I usually have to do.  The stickers for the certificates are very cheap and last a long time.  I think my upcharge per person is about $10 or $12.  I induct about 12-15 people each year, so that helps keep me from having to take too much from my general fund.

    I also really push all the honors and such in my programs.  It helps add prestige, and subliminally helps to educate folks on where their ticket dollars go.  And I do a little PSA on what it takes to budget for that particular show.  So many people don't know.   This helps when we are selling concessions.  We get several people who will pay for $3 of items with a $5 or more and tell us to keep the change.

    Raymond Palasz
    Auditorium Director/Director of Theatre
    Munster IN

  • 4.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 9 days ago
    I do the exact same thing Jennifer!

    Natalie (Saunders) Dommer
    Pasadena Memorial High School
    Pasadena, Texas

  • 5.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    Wow, that is a great question. Like other school societies, an initiation fee is not uncommon. Also we choose to only give away ITS certificates, upon induction and honor cords (student pays) for graduation. As far as other certificates and awards, we usually print them ourselves, or use a local company.

    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School

  • 6.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    I'm in a very similar situation. Our troupe gets no money so everything I spend has to come from either student dues or fundraisers. Some years I don't have enough to purchase the things my seniors deserve for their graduation swag. I have had students pay for their own, which I hate. Sometimes I've paid for it myself. Sometimes I've borrowed a little from the play fund. I tried "adopt a Thespian" one time to try to get people in the community to pay for a senior's swag. Ended up their own parents adopted them, so it sort of defeated the point of eliminating the financial burden on the families. 

    My advice would be to determine what honors you're going to provide. Will it be star stickers on the certificate, star point pins, medallions, etc. And then stick with it from year to year. You don't have to do all the things. I get my kids the pins for their points, officer pins, scholar pins, and medallions. They can wear the medallions with the pins on the ribbon with their graduation gowns and cords. 


  • 7.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    These are all great recommendations. I really appreciate it. I think going forward there will have to be an induction cost with extra put in for additional “swag” or pins. I also think it’s smart to include rushes delivery fee and put the cord cost on the students. Although I have a pretty wealthy community, the arts are not well funded (no one knows how much theatre costs) and there are some students that struggle to pay for anything.
    The previous leader did not leave much information either, so most of the information I received was from students, which was sporadic at best.
    Thanks for the information.
    I’ll still be looking at more posts so please keep them coming. It is very helpful!

    Nathan Jourdan

    Forest Hill MD

  • 8.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 28 days ago

    Hi Nathan,
    This is my 3rd year with ITS and I'm still figuring it out. I do charge the students the $35 Induction fee, but do not charge seniors for cords. I feel they are the reason we have a program and if we haven't made enough money throughout the year to spend a couple of hundreds in them, I'm doing something wrong:)

    I tried to institute the pins last year, but am not sure I will continue. Our small program is run by just me, and after the spring musical I am tired and Rampling up my real job (we don't have theatre classes and I come in after school). I struggle with the point system, as some students have earned 25 points with another production company and only build set for me. My stage manager joins the production for the last 2 weeks, and I don't believe she deserves the same points as a cast members who has been at rehearsals 3x a week and multiple Saturdays. 

    I relate to your struggle to honor the kids, finding the fairness and overburdening your budget. Find what works for you!

    Wishing you the best!

    Jen Stover
    Director, Souhegan Drama
    Souhegan High School
    Amherst, NH

  • 9.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hi Nathan,

    My first response won't do you any good. I was fortunate to work in a wealthy school district. I had a pretty good budget and paid for all awards out of my operating funds.

    The other thing I did was maintain a database of all Thespian Points, honors, and totals. Periodically, I would print this list and post it in the classroom. That was an easy way to acknowledge those receiving honors and give the younger members of the troupe something to work toward. Also, aside from the time it took to set up the database, it was free! :-)

    Robert Smith
    VA Co-Chapter Director
    Centreville VA

  • 10.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hi, Nathan -

    I remember being overwhelmed a bit when I first took over our troupe.  The easiest answer is that it's up to you to decide what you can/cannot afford - but there are many ways to recognize your kids.

    We keep tracking points for everyone throughout HS - they can be inducted at 10, but then at every 10 points beyond that - there are "stars".

    At 60 points, they qualify for Honor Thespian... and every 10, more stars... and it goes up from there.

    We do not order all of the pins and "hardware" for each individual because of the cost.   But there are stickers that you can order through EDTA to honor the students who've got 20-30-40 points and they can add those to their certificates.  That is an inexpensive way to start.

    We also invested in the graduation stoles that have the Thespian logo on them for students to wear with their cap and gown at the graduation ceremony.  We collect them back at the end of the ceremony so we can re-use them each year.  They're about $30 each.   In fact, I'm heading to school this morning to drop off an envelope for each senior Thespian so that they can be distributed to this year's group. (Admin is organizing a videotaped "walk across the stage" outdoors next week - and then releasing the final video with speeches, etc... on the night of the actual ceremony, if it had been a live event.)

    We don't do any individual trophies for too much - but if you check out the Thespian store online, you'll see that there are plenty of options.  Figuring out what you can manage financially to get started is key.  

    In my experience, once parents and kids knew (and could physically SEE) that there were honors above the initial induction, they wanted to add more stuff to their collection and were more invested in fundraisers, or parents were willing to help shoulder some of the cost. 

    I'm happy to chat anytime, if that helps.  I'm in Lancaster County PA - and we're pretty close to the MD border.

  • 11.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 29 days ago
    Our ITS leaders are told upfront that one of their responsibilities is raising money to cover next year's annual club dues and the current year's induction ceremony. Any extra money they raise past that goes toward those extras (pins, stickers, etc.). Some years we have barely enough to pay dues; other years we really rock out. It always depends on our leaders.

    Our ITS members do a Star Table at every show--for $.50, an audience member can fill out a pre-cut paper star with a message to a crew or cast member. We deliver them and hang them in the dressing rooms. We also ask ITS members to bake/donate concessions for our shows and the proceeds go back to ITS. Ticket sales, ad sales, and donations go to a separate drama account.

    Our very first year, the drama account had to pay to get the club up and running, but after that, it was self-sufficient.

    Maralie Medlin
    Director of Fine Arts
    Gaston Christian School
    Gastonia, NC

  • 12.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 28 days ago
    Love the Star idea thanks for sharing.

    Dorathea Kelly
    Derby KS

  • 13.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 28 days ago
    I love the Star Table idea!  We do Candy Grams with notes to cast/crew members attached to a little bag of candy. I may do both!!

    As far as costs, I'm just planning my second induction and I decided to go with stickers instead of pins. I pay for the Senior Stoles. Christina Iman is right - you can't do all the things!

    Pam Lisotta
    Admissions Coordinator
    Archdiocese of New Orleans
    Slidell LA

  • 14.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 15 days ago

    I have a similar dilemma with costs - this is our second year with ITS and, especially with our springs shoes canceled the week before performance, we have ZERO funds available for this year's honouring of students materially. I'm actually not sure we will be able to pay annual dues next year. We do not get a budget and I funded the first year out of pocket until we got some fundraising (mostly ticket sales and a one-off event) accomplished. This year, we had a very well attended winter show and had outstanding pre-sales for the spring set. We had to refund those but had already spent the rest of our funds on the props, costumes, etc that we cannot get back now because the school has been off limits beyond our return period.

    Although we include a $5 up charge (not much at all) to help pad senior items, the reality is that $35 is already a bit much for most of my student population. They want to be a part of the Society but feel the "perks" (given we can't get money to travel to a nearby festival or any festival, really; and the scholarship opportunities really don't compete with those offered by other societies, like the engineering ones - we are a STEM school) don't actually add up to what they're paying for and are currently in debate about whether we stay with ITS or pay a yearly membership fee for the club internally. Our seniors want to see the chapter progress and thrive but our underclassmen argue there isn't a point. I'm somewhere in between because the costs really are high for our troupe, which, this year, raised over $600 but lost $400 on shows we couldn't do (the additional $200 went to funding a field trip and purchasing scripts, for which we also have no budget or support). 

    All that said, cords are highly coveted at my school (it's the culture), so I was planning to purchase them out of pocket. However, they just announced graduations will not have any in-person component whatsoever in our district so I might be able to get away with stickers, although I have no way of getting them to the students. 

    Sharkey Andrews
    Teacher, Special Education | Artistic Director, Theatre
    DC Public Schools
    Washington DC

  • 15.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 14 days ago

    I never taught at a school that wasn't "low wealth," but I chartered one troupe and brought two others out of inactive status because I believe in the value of the International Thespian Society membership.  But there is only so much money to go around.  Once you set expectations for your troupe, that is what the students will expect.

    ITS inductees paid their own induction fees, but a simple note from a parent saying they had an inability to pay part or all of the fee shifted that responsibility to the Theatre account.

    I gave out the certificate and whatever EdTA was currently sending to inductees, and that is all.

    The troupe (from the internal Theatre account) bought blue cords once the school where I taught for the last two decades started allowing them.  A week or so before graduation, Thespians in good standing brought me a check or cash for the replacement cost of the cords.  After the graduation ceremony, each Thespian either gave the cords back in exchange for the deposit or kept the cords.  I met grads in the room where the actual diplomas were distributed.  (Students received just the cover in the ceremony itself.)  Some students wanted to keep the cords, but more than half just wanted to wear them for the ceremony.

    I never gave out trophies, because we simply couldn't afford them.  Oh, I guess we could have afforded them, but that would have meant spending less on our shows and festival attendance, and that wasn't a bargain I was willing to make.  I made certificates for senior recognition and the awards ceremony each spring, which also included students who weren't Thespians.

    Discussing finances with the troupe was something I feel very strongly about.  If troupe members want all the bells and whistles, I think they need to be willing to find a way to pay for them.  Having trophies, stoles or cords, etc., might mean giving up something else, but that is a decision worth discussing, life lesson worth learning.

    C. J. Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator
    Asheville NC

  • 16.  RE: ITS Costs

    Posted 13 days ago
    Edited by Hans Weichhart 13 days ago
    Thank you to everyone for contributing to this thread and sharing your ideas for how to make the International Thespian Society financially accessible to your students.

    Related, but separate, I wanted to share that we have financial assistance grants available to students who wish to attend Virtual ITF next month. These grants are available to inducted Thespians only and must be applied for by the students themselves. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Click here to access the Google Form application.

    We hope that this brings the once in a lifetime experience of ITF that much closer to your students during these otherwise challenging times.

    Have a wonderful, safe, and healthy Memorial Day weekend!

    Hans Weichhart
    Chief Relationship Officer
    Cincinnati OH