My predecessors had been paying monthly rent on one of those big, steel storage containers that sat out back of the theatre. After doing the math, I saw we would be spending over $1,300 a year on the storage - easily the set budget of a show. So we purged. It took us a couple of weeks to get through it all, but we ended up keeping the doors, the few flats that were still in good shape and not odd sizes, and some of the furniture. Everything else we deconstructed to reuse what we could and tossed the rest.We periodically would purge costumes - if you do it around Halloween you can have a costume sale at the school and make a few bucks selling pieces to the students.Props...we keep as much as you can of the stuff that is "generic" and likely to be used again. Super specific or really big pieces would get dismantled.
Something to consider with your venue's collection of 'junk' is that 99% of it is 'fuel'. Fuel for a really big hot fire. Many theatres neglect to construct scenery, props, and costume from non-combustible materials and/or treat them with fire retardant. The requirement to do this has been on the books for over 100 years now, so maybe it's time to get with the program. Cleaning-out the old 'fuel' and constructing new goods properly (legally) should be part of the education process. The students should be taught that the application of fire retardants is part of the cost and process of making theatre. Constructing scenery, props, and costumes that are not in compliance with fire codes is not really an option, and they should never think of it that way. If / when they go into the 'real world', this will be expected and their first interaction with a Fire Marshal should be a good experience.
Another good reason to clear-out the stage area is to free-up space to do theatre. Who ever has enough space on-stage? No one! Store un-used equipment and goods somewhere else - NOT ON THE STAGE.
Any of you found a good system to catagorize and store costumes? I got a response from a company that sells a program but we've had a hard time figuring out how to give access to it to hired directors since our server is private. I'm an old school theater geek not an IT geek so this is daunting.
Margaret at Costume Inventory Resources has some wonderful software to help with costumes and other things we all keep in storage. I believe her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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