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About Opening a Playhouse…

Starting a Playhouse is a labor of love. Just like any grass roots 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.

Step 1 - 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. Click HERE to learn about all the startup locations in the works!

Step 2 - Organize Leadership

Opening a GiGi’s Playhouse in a new location is not something that one person can achieve alone. 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, some of which will eventually become your Board of Directors, playhouse volunteers and other key roles once you open. Once this group is formed, and your application is approved, set a regular meeting schedule so people can mark it on 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.

Step 3 – Complete an Application

GiGi’s Playhouse has a formal application process. After a conversation with a member of the Growth Team, fill out an application which includes bios of all the people on your startup team. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed quarterly.

Step 4 - Community Outreach

Opening a GiGi’s 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 tapping 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.

Step 5 – Attend Trainings

Once you have been approved as a startup location, you will have available to you all of the branding and operational support you need to continue building awareness and raising funds for your future Playhouse!

We give you these tools and resources such as handbooks, fundraising guides, database management, internal bookkeeping, website, e-mail, branded marketing materials and much more. There are 3 phases to opening a Brick and Mortar or Pop-up Playhouse. A representative from GiGi’s Playhouse INC meets with your startup lead(s) bi-weekly to facilitate training and coach your team through the startup phases.

Step 6 – Open your Playhouse!

Whether you decide to go down the Brick and Mortar Route or Pop-up Route the Grand Opening or Program Kick off Day is always an exciting event. Nancy and GiGi will be there to celebrate this special day with you when all of your hard work finally pays off.

The timeline for opening a Brick and Mortar Playhouse is typically about 18-24 months while Pop-Ups usually take 8-12 months.

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