Mountain View Voice

News - October 12, 2012

Pear Theatre looks to Kickstarter for upgrades

by Nick Veronin

In need of new lighting and sound equipment, Pear Theatre officials have tapped into the popular new trend of crowd-sourcing capital. A little more than one week after asking for funding, the theater company is about $800 shy of the $8,000 needed to finance the purchase of the new gear — all thanks to patron donations.

The theater was able to amass the donations in such short order thanks to Kickstarter, a social media site, which allows users to collect pledges of money for a specific project. In the case of the Pear, the goal was $8,000, which would be used to install new lights, purchase new lighting and sound equipment and perhaps buy a portable restroom to help cut down on lines at the facilities during intermission.

"I'm amazed," Pear Artistic Director Diane Tasca said of the campaign, which was launched on Sept. 25 and ends Oct. 30. Just one week into fund-raising drive, the theater had accrued $7,132. "It's very heartening to see the support that's come out, and I know there's more coming."

In a Kickstarter campaign, people pledge money via credit card, but they are not charged until the campaign reaches its goal. If a project's goal is not reached by the time the campaign ends, the money is returned and the group asking for the money has to start a new campaign or give up. If the goal is met, however, an unlimited number of pledges may be accepted.

Should the campaign maintain its current momentum, the Pear may exceed the amount it set out to collect.

"We would certainly love to see that," Tasca said.

According to Tasca, the Pear is in dire need of new lighting and sound equipment. "We have a real hodgepodge of lights that were donated to us — old theaters were redoing their lights, so they gave their old ones to us, things we found online, used lights and things we borrow from Jordan Middle School and Palo Alto High School," Tasca said.

The computer used to run the sound and the board they use to control the lights are outdated. "We really need new sound equipment," she said.

Tasca said it has commonly taken at least a month or more to raise about $5,000 the traditional way — through a "direct appeal" in letters sent to theater members.

Depending on how much money is raised, the Pear may buy an upscale portable bathroom to set up outside the theater. Tasca said they are wary about many big improvements to the space with an uncertain future as their landlord, Google, continues to expand in the area.

However, they do have a problem on occasion with long restroom lines during intermission, and in the middle of an act, flushing the in-house toilet can ruin the mood.

Those who donate will be eligible for a range of prizes depending on how much they give. At the lower end, donors may request acknowledgment on the Pear's website or in a play's program. On the high end, donors may receive tickets and even a private performance in the venue of their choosing.

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