Q: What are some ways to stretch your K–12 budget?
A: Whether your school’s budget comes from the government or tuition, the amount your dance program gets will likely depend on the priorities of your principal, which is why I believe advocating for your program will always be a big part of your job. The main budgetary needs for K–12 are performances, field trips and guest choreographer/teacher costs. Costumes tend to be the biggest line item, but, depending on your school, theater access, lights, sound and crew may also be your responsibility.
While it’s ideal to use the resources your school offers you, you will most likely need to raise some funds for your budget on your own to stretch your program. Most teachers I know use the income from the previous year’s box office to pay for the following year’s costumes and other performance costs. Some ask the PTA for funding, while others look to the student and parent body for skills, like graphic design or costume making.
One of the most creative funding ideas I’ve heard came from New Jersey–based teacher Heather Warfel-Sandler. To expand her program, Heather used a resource she had that is in demand—space. Heather created Choreographers in Residence Program (CHIRP), which offers professional dance companies free space for rehearsals and performances in exchange for working with her students. This can include technique classes, learning repertoire, watching rehearsals or even working behind the scenes on a production, thus connecting her students not only to the local dance community but to the greater dance world.