ShopLab: A Huge Opportunity for Small LA Theater

[UPDATE:

Apparently you can (and must!) vote for ShopLab everyday at the Pepsi Refresh Project. It’s super easy to sign in, especially if you’re already logged into Facebook.  Keep voting and we can win!

DOOO EEEEET NNAAAOOOO!]

If you have ever produced a low-to-mid-scale play for a nomadic company in Los Angeles, or in any city for that matter, you know how expensive and inconvenient a temporary a shop/storage place can be.  For companies without an existing space to store materials, build set pieces, or ways to move stuff around, these costs can drag down even a healthy budget.  The time spent securing these resources also weighs on a production, and when it’s time to strike the show, there’s that sinking feeling you get when you watch perfectly good lumber, flats, large props or whatever can’t be stuck in the producer’s living room, get thrown in the dumpster and lost forever.

The Solution. (click and vote, more below the fold.)

There are dozens of companies in Los Angeles that face these issues, all of them are small, and all of them bust their asses to make these shows happen without the institutional inheritance of CTG or other troupes with permanent homes.   And while the Penskes and Public Storages of the world would probably love to see this trend continue, it’s obvious that every dollar spent on temporary storage, long-distance truck rental, and once-used materials is money that could be spent on elevating productions and paying theater professionals.   The weight of these associated costs only adds to the ludicrous venue rental costs in this city and makes grassroots theater a very expensive, and potentially wasteful, endevour.

Recognizing this friction in the existing production model, Ian Garrett and the Center for Sustainable Practices in the Arts called for the creation of common shop and storage space for nomadic theater troupes in LA.   As imagined, ShopLab would serve as a place for small troupes to purchase used set materials, build set pieces on shared equipment, borrow transportation and donate used materials for future use.  Most recently, he’s teamed up with the LA Stage Alliance to find ways to make it happen.  The latest chance to put real funding behind this bad boy is the Pepsi Refresh Project, a series of grants awarded monthly by Pepsi to the projects that garner the most votes on their website.

Garrett has tried for months to enter ShopLab into Pepsi’s site, but the demand for the 1000 monthly slots is extremely high.  Now that he’s succeeded, it’s up to those of us who will benefit from such a program to spread the word and get out the vote. If the campaign succeeds, Pepsi will provide $250,000 (that’s a quarter million suckas) to fund ShopLab for it’s first year, including salaries (job creation in the arts, man), shop and computer equipment, warehouse improvements, a TRUCK, and a database of props, costumes and set pieces that will make the whole thing user friendly.  Garrett expects the program to be self-sustaining after year one by charging theaters (and hopefully LASA) a small membership fee.

So this is your chance, #LATHTR.  Get on your Facebooks and LinkedIns and whatever and post the link.  Get everyone you know to vote this up and you could potentially create a home for every homeless troupe in our foul city.  The result will be a cheaper, greener, and more efficient small theater community, and hopefully, better and bigger plays for everyone.

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