For a regional theater with 4-600+ seats… It’s not a matter of refreshing the system – or, the fun isn’t in that. It’s like trying to fix tight pants by putting on a pair of loose pants around them; the pinch is still there. Another direction (none of this new, but it came up in conversation recently).
Increase endowment by a third.
Do this by cutting box office (all tix free) and cancelling subscriptions, which will increase audience size and make the theater more attractive to large donors. If we really mean it when we say we need the audience, then we should pay them; but the need is ideally mutual, so zero also feels ethical.
Cut amount of seating by a third and reconstitute theater(s) to include artist housing.
Commission relationships rather than plays.
Do away with a season (or think of seasons in different intervals, like – 500 years). Let plays emerge naturally from collective need.
Two collective needs to address: the ritual (make real a moment the audience requires to go forward in society – like the Super Bowl or bris); and social destabilization (catharsis = the realization that we know nothing, have accomplished nothing and that therefore we are free to know in new ways and do with levity).
This means that some years you may do lots of events, others – none.
Get out of the theater sometimes – perform where the audience is (hillside, bar…).
When you’re in the theater, make space deep (too big or too concentrated) and time fluid (too fast or too slow).
But again, also: don’t change much, there’s that nice option – the system’s bent-not-broken in lots of ways; many people working hard and well… Where that’s not the case, where it is broken, it makes as much business sense to change the basis as it does to continue to traffic in plays, spaces and audiences as we recognize them.