About Opening a Playhouse…
Starting a Playhouse is a labor of love. Just like any grass root effort, opening a Playhouse in your community requires a lot of passion, dedication and help from a lot of hands. However, on that day when your Playhouse opens for the first time, and you see hundreds of people packed into your Playhouse offering to do whatever they can to help make the Playhouse a success – all your hard work will be worth it. Below is an outline of the steps necessary to open a GiGi’s Playhouse in your community.
Opening a Playhouse in your community is truly a community wide effort. From a fundraising perspective, businesses and organizations in your community will want to be a part of this wonderful new addition. However, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of families in your community that will benefit from a GiGi’s Playhouse. An important step in opening a Playhouse will be to reach out to families who have a child with Down syndrome to educate them on what a Playhouse in their community will offer. There are probably formal and informal networks of families that currently exist and taping into those networks is a key component to getting started. In addition, Playhouses are almost entirely run by volunteers so you will need people to help run programs, organize parties, handle administrative tasks and much, much more. Reaching out to the community to find people willing to play a role somehow in your Playhouse is quite important.
Opening a GiGi’s Playhouse in a new location is not something that one person can take on. There’s a lot of work to be completed and you will need the time and diverse talents of a dedicated group of people to accomplish your goals. In this first phase of opening a Playhouse, you will need to gather a group of about 8-10 people who are willing to commit to a leadership role. This group will be your core start-up committee, many of which will eventually become your Board of Directors, playhouse volunteers and other key roles once you open. Once this group is formed, you should set a regular meeting schedule so people can mark it in their calendars. Make every effort to diversify this group by recruiting people with different backgrounds, skill sets and talents. Areas of specific importance are; fundraising, marketing, and community outreach.
Begin To Raise Funds
Once your leadership group has been established and is meeting regularly, you should set your initial goals on fundraising. The funds you will raise will be used towards the expenses of opening a Playhouse, visits you will need to make to other Playhouses and to the National Office as a part of the training process, and your first year’s operating expenses. The team in the National Office will work with you and guide you to help you achieve various milestones along the way.
Contact National Office
If you are interested in learning more about how to open a GiGi’s Playhouse in your community contact the National Office at 847-885-PLAY or send an email to Startup@gigisplayhouse.org.
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