Creative Fundraising With Peppers, Nails and a Sledgehammer
What does a small nonprofit theater group do when grants just aren’t cutting it? They create their own version of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Two founders and a company member of Molotov Theatre Group, which performs at the DC Arts Center in Adams Morgan, ate Carolina Reaper Peppers, the hottest of hot peppers, in front of a live audience. (The event was also live streamed.) It raised $2,200, which the group says provides 20% of what’s needed to put on a small scale production. (Its next show, The Margins, kicks off this week.)
The next fundraiser is the Hundred Cinderblock Challenge, where Molotov co-founder and artistic director Alex Zavistovich (above) will allow people to break cinderblocks with a sledgehammer on his stomach while he is laying on a bed of nails. (Several have advised him against this one.) Alex says the group is looking for a venue for this challenge, which is being planned for late summer. He tells us the long-term outlook for any theater company is to do things that take themselves out of their own comfort zone and create awareness in a unique way.
Molotov Theatre, launched in 2007, focuses on a historical Grand Guignol acting style in horror and suspense from the late 1800s to the mid-1960s. The style fell into obscurity with motion pictures, but Molotov is one of the few groups in the US that keeps it alive. Molotov was bootstrapped in the early years, then additional funding came from grants, donations and three fundraising events. Philanthropic organizations and foundations have cut back on the number of arts organizations they support, Alex says.