Got a big room. Need ideas.
May 9, 2009 6:25 PM   Subscribe

What would you do with a 47'x47' room to bring in revenue?

I have an opportunity for a very affordable, longer-term lease on a building that has a nice-sized "conference room" in it (Dimensions: 47’x47’. Built in screen and staging available. 200-person capacity. Restrooms there too.) In the past, the room has been rented out for receptions, reunions, etc. It was not used as much as it could have been due to being in a small town. My background is in theatre and I have put on several small productions in that very room. Now I have the chance to do with it what I will. I certainly intend to stage more productions there, as well as furnish the place with tables and cater in dinners (dinner theatre, murder mysteries, etc). While I will make it generally available for rent as it has been, I want to pursue particular projects that will "pull" people in rather than simply dangling the availablity out there and hoping it is used.

Some ideas I have had for further use include:

Hosting contests (since it has screen, possibly gamers, etc)
Bringing in other theatre companies for shows
Small "concerts" that I organize
Trade shows (need to learn more about this)
Fundraisers that I organize (as opposed to just renting the room for a fundraiser)
Small film festival
Classes (acting, readers' theatre, other non-theatre topics with guest instructors)

So, if you had a room like this, in a smaller town, what would you do with it? Ideas, links to similar facilities, examples all greatly appreciated.
posted by skypieces to Work & Money (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Family-friendly movie nights
posted by zippy at 6:53 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: kids' birthday parties
rehearsal hall for plays or bands
craft fair, zine fair, mini comic convention (you could invite a guest artist or two)
large community garage sale or swap meet
open mic night or poetry slam
day care
after school program of some sort
improv classes
is there a piano? if so, rent to a teacher for piano lessons or recitals?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:57 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: Not even just family friendly - if the screen is big enough and there isn't a theater in town that shows smaller independent films or classics that really lend themselves to the big screen then you could really fit in there. I saw 'Alien' a few years ago on Halloween in an old theater and it was amazing.
posted by thankyoujohnnyfever at 6:57 PM on May 9, 2009

Response by poster: Regarding the movie ideas, anyone know the possible pitfalls of public showings and how to work around that? (One-night private club structure, etc.)
posted by skypieces at 7:03 PM on May 9, 2009

Art classes! My home town has a community center with a pool and a gym and a bunch of rooms that they have classes of all sorts in, but they are always looking for other locations to utilize. You could see if you have something like that in your town, and work with them. Maybe you have a dance class with no class to dance in, or a sculpting class that is too cramped.

If I had a big swell room like that, though, I would be compelled to host movie nights for my closest hundred friends. Guaranteed coolness rating, for life.
posted by Mizu at 7:05 PM on May 9, 2009

Is the seating fixed, or movable? Are there changing rooms? Dance and martial arts and exercise teachers always need spaces to rent for group classes, and are likely to commit to a regular class (and hence regular payment to you).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:10 PM on May 9, 2009

Rent it out by the hour for a very minimal amount of money. AA, yoga classes, etc are always looking for places.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:57 PM on May 9, 2009

Let your local Boy Scout / Girl Scout troops know it's there.
posted by amtho at 8:20 PM on May 9, 2009

This sounds like a cool situation and lots of these suggestions are great!

Following amtho's suggestion--please don't charge the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts if you go out of your way to let them know it's available. At least in my town it is nearly impossible to find a room for scouts to use for free and even nominal rents are cost-prohibitive.

Best of luck putting that great room to use!
posted by Sublimity at 8:28 PM on May 9, 2009

Not sure where you are or what the demographics are, but definitely consider sort of niche marketing for events - Quinceañeras for example. We rent out a hall where I work and find that the best thing is word of mouth in tight-knit communities.
posted by krudiger at 8:39 PM on May 9, 2009

Someone up above mentioned AA meetings, and one good way to do that would be to let the local recovery community know that the room is available for early morning meetings, esp if you have windows so that the sunrise can be seen. You won't make much off of it but if it's a good group -- and early morning groups are usually fairly serious folks -- if it's a good group they'll leave it in better shape than they found it, no one else would be using it at that time of day, and you'll be doing a nice service to the community, too.

If you're into folk music, there is a large 'house concert' thing that's been going on for about ten or fifteen years, you can attract a good talent because you can pay them well and also because house concerts are known to be 'listening rooms' by which I mean the music is really important, the audience is there for the music, is there to hear the artist, not to drink or get laid or whatever. There are a few of them in Houston, at least one here in Austin, pretty sure there's one in San Antone, and I've read that there are many spread across the states.

Okay, google is our friend...

Anyways, that's all that comes to me at this time, lots of good ideas upthread, I hope that this works out well for you.

posted by dancestoblue at 9:32 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: For legally showing movies, look into Swank and Criterion, the two big non-theatrical public performance distributors. Rates will depend on the film and your audience, but they'd be able to give you a quote if you call them up. The cost probably depends on how much you charge for admission too. I believe you may be prohibited from advertising (e.g. newspaper or radio) your screenings, but you probably (read your license) can setup a "film club" and mail screening announcements to a mailing list. Of course, it won't make you any money, but you can always invite over a butt-load of friends and have a good time!
posted by zachlipton at 9:33 PM on May 9, 2009

Or only play movies in the public domain:
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 9:50 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: I used to run an Odd Fellows Hall that had a room slightly larger than that available for rent very very cheaply. So, my suggestion is to see what goes on room-wise at the local Masonic/Odd Fellows hall. Some of the things we did there, or people we rented to

- swing dancing classes/events
- regular open mike night events (really the acoustic version of user-generated content)
- fraternal organizations liked to meet there (and they are regular)
- holiday crafts shows
- community suppers/breakfasts/soupathons [small fundraiser type things but big community builders]
- computer classes [in huge demand where I live now, add wifi to what you currently have]
- white elephant bingo parties, donate leftover "prizes" to local food shelf/thrift store
- "spring cleaning" party, same general idea. offer free takeaway of leftover items, otherwise it's a swap event

I found at the Odd Fellows Hall that doing something mostly regularly was the best way to get people in there, so if they knew that the frist saturday was open mile night, they might not come every month but they'd know about it and would come when they could.
posted by jessamyn at 6:50 AM on May 10, 2009

posted by rokusan at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2009

Put some art materials in it and let people play with them.
posted by divabat at 3:54 PM on May 10, 2009

Response by poster: Lots of great suggestions. Thanks to you all. I had been trying to find a way to research this without brainstorming "new" ideas (reinventing the wheel). The suggestion to check what is going on in other halls such as Masonic, etc. was very helpful. Am now checking into film viewings and classes also.

Did not mention before, but I also acquired an outdoor amphitheater lying fallow. But, that's another question. :-)
posted by skypieces at 5:57 PM on May 10, 2009

Dog training classes
Baby Loves Disco-type events
Mom-and-baby matinee movies
posted by HotToddy at 7:13 PM on May 10, 2009

Others have mentioned martial arts and "rasslin,'" the square dimensions made me think of boxing
posted by Restless Day at 4:06 AM on May 11, 2009

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