A politician teaches you how NOT to fundraise for your project

One of a Broadway Producer’s primary responsibilities is to raise money.  It’s what makes us different from Movie Producers, Record Producers, and TV Producers. 

I used to complain about it. But as a mentor of mine said, “Ken, that’s the game. If you don’t like it, go produce movies instead of theater.”

That shut me up big time. Because it reminded me that we have the choice to do whatever we want in this life. I choose the theater, with all its idiosyncrasies. And instead of complaining about what bugs me, I take the serenity prayer to heart. I accept the things I cannot change, and work with a positive attitude to change the things I can.

One profession who has to raise more money than a Broadway Producer is a Politician.

So, I watch how they do it like a hawk watching a hawk.

I learned a couple of things about how they do it pretty quickly:

  • They follow up and then follow up some more.
  • They come at you through email, text, phone calls, direct mail and would send a carrier pigeon if they could.
  • They’d love a big check, sure, they’ll take lots of littles ones too.
  • They’re good at it. Because their jobs depend on it.


Which is why I was so shocked when a certain political candidate I follow was effin’ up so badly.

I’m not going to name names, because, well, it makes no difference who it is. And I eff up all the time, and I wouldn’t want someone else pointing it out either. (Let he without a marketing sin, cast the first e-stone.)

So what was this politician (or his team, more precisely) doing to decrease his/her chance of raising money?

This politician sent out emails that described their fundraising efforts as follows:

“pacing behind our goal.”

“not great.”

“we expect to get pummelled . . . “


There are more, but you get their drift. And I’m sure you get why this is the wrong approach when raising money.

No one ever wants to throw money at a sinking ship. One of the most powerful marketing strategies is social proof – demonstrating that whatever it is you’re selling is popular with tons of people. Because people want to do what other people are doing. You see a long line at a restaurant or a night club? You want to know what’s going on. You see a lot of people with the same sneakers or handbag? It makes you curious.

So telling everyone that people AREN’T giving you money when you’re asking them over and over? That can drive people the other way!

Now, the exception to this rule would be if this politician was going to his or her inner circle with open and authentic asks for real help. But communicating this way with potential backers who you don’t know that well, is a surefire way to NOT raise money.

(You can bet that I didn’t click “donate now” when I read these emails.)

Remember, when approaching investors, always be honest with where you are with your fundraising. But down-in-the-dumps, negative-marketing, is rarely a solution to raising money.  Or anything, for that matter.


– – – – –
Want more tips on raising money?  Get my book, How To Raise Money For The Arts or for Anything.

Podcast Episode #236: 10 Audition Tips for Actors





The episode is for the actors out there. 

Sitting on the other side of the table is something that every actor should do. It’s incredibly educational and inspirational because frankly, you realize that while there are lots and lots of people who call themselves actors, there’s a much smaller group.

Since so few actors get a chance to sit where producers and directors sit, I am sharing 10 tips on how to have a better audition experience.



  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE!)
  • REVIEW the Podcast on Apple Podcast (it’s the biggest compliment you can give)
  • SHARE this episode with your friends!
  • JOIN the TheaterMakers Facebook Group


My mission is to get more people talking about the theater.  The more people talking about it, the more people who want to make it, perform it, support it, etc.  And that’s how theater not only survives, but thrives.

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!



It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s 50 Broadway Mentors . . . in Paperback!

You asked for it, so you got it.

Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice from 50 Broadway Superpowers was a quick best-seller when we launched it last holiday season.  And while my name is on the cover, the best-seller status of this compilation didn’t have anything to do with me.

It’s all because of the advice from the Broadway A-listers like Director Kenny Leon, composer Bobby Lopez, Actress/Author Ali Stroker and so many more.

And while the hardcover, coffee table book was a bit hit (and apparently was a hot gift), we got a ton of requests for a paperback and an e-book version.

So, we made ’em.  And you can pre-order the ebook now for only $9.99.

Don’t know what Cast of Mentors is?  It’s bite-sized advice from an incredible group of mentors (see the full list below) on how to succeed in this biz . . . and in life!

But why should I tell you what it is, when you can see for yourself!  Click here to read Tony Award-winning Director and Choreographer’s Susan Stroman’s entry!

And then pre-order the ebook for yourself . . . or for a gift (I hear graduations are coming up real soon!).

Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice From 50 Broadway Superpowers Ebook is available for pre-order NOW and Paperbacks will be available on June 16th,

And, of course, the Hardcover is still available for those who have an empty space on your coffee table.

And a huge thanks, again, to the following 50 mentors for being a part of Volume I. (Yep – there will be a second one!)  


The Cast of Cast Of Mentors:

Rick Miramontez
Charlotte St. Martin
Nina Lannan
Terrence McNally
Jordan Roth
Tim Rice
Ben Brantley
Michael Arden
Casey Nicholaw
David Henry Hwang
Ted Chapin
Susan Stroman
Daryl Roth
Joe Mantello
Stephen Schwartz
Lynn Ahrens
Diane Paulus
Jeanine Tesori
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Robert Lopez
Leigh Silverman
Stephen Byrd
Bartlett Sher
Sue Frost & Randy Adams
Tara Rubin
Rick Elice
Lynne Meadow
David Stone
Kenny Leon
Stacey Mindich
Kathleen Marshall
Eva Price
Kwame Kwei-Armah
Pam MacKinnon
Sergio Trujillo
Lisa Kron
Rebecca Taichman
John Weidman
Joe Iconis
Michael Greif
Kirsten Childs
Dominique Morisseau
Ali Stroker
Mara Isaacs
Alan Cumming
Asmeret Ghebremichael
Jamil Jude
Mandy Gonzalez
Robyn Goodman
Paul Tazewell
Get the advice on how you can achieve your theatrical aspirations from all these mentors here.

Believe it or not, It’s the 2020 Tony Award Nominations!

This year it’s not just about whether or not you agree with the nominees . . . it’s whether you agree with the whole idea of having Tony Awards or not!

But we’re not going to talk about that right now.  Because you know what?  For the nominees below, it’s awesome.  And let’s not “Thursday morning quarterback” it . . . because let’s face it, this is an impossible situation for the Tonys.

So I admire them for making a decision and going for it.  And I congratulate all the nominees below (including myself – because I was nominated for Frankie and Johnny!) and I can’t wait to watch the show and jump up and down in my living room for all the winners.

Here here, nominees!


Best Play
Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl
The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez
Sea Wall/A Life by Simon Stephens and Nick Payne
Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris
The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp

Best Revival of a Play
Betrayal by Harold Pinter
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally
A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller

Best Musical
Jagged Little Pill
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Joaquina Kalukango, Slave Play
Laura Linney, My Name is Lucy Barton
Audra McDonald, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
Mary-Louise Parker, The Sound Inside

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Ian Barford, Linda Vista
Andrew Burnap, The Inheritance
Jake Gyllenhaal, Sea Wall/A Life
Tom Hiddleston, Betrayal
Tom Sturridge, Sea Wall/A Life
Blair Underwood, A Soldier’s Play

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Karen Olivo, Moulin Rouge!
Elizabeth Stanley, Jagged Little Pill
Adrienne Warren, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Aaron Tveit, Moulin Rouge!*

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Ato Blankson-Wood, Slave Play
James Cusati-Moyer, Slave Play
David Alan Grier, A Soldier’s Play
John Benjamin Hickey, The Inheritance
Paul Hilton, The Inheritance

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Jane Alexander, Grand Horizons
Chalia La Tour, Slave Play
Annie McNamara, Slave Play
Lois Smith, The Inheritance
Cora Vander Broek, Linda Vista

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Moulin Rouge!
Derek Klena, Jagged Little Pill
Sean Allan Krill, Jagged Little Pill
Sahr Ngaujah, Moulin Rouge!
Daniel J. Watts, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Kathryn Gallagher, Jagged Little Pill
Celia Rose Gooding, Jagged Little Pill
Robyn Hurder, Moulin Rouge!
Lauren Patten, Jagged Little Pill
Myra Lucretia Taylor, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Book of a Musical
Jagged Little Pill, Diablo Cody
Moulin Rouge!, John Logan
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
A Christmas Carol, Christopher Nightingale
The Inheritance, Paul Englishby
The Rose Tattoo, Fitz Patton and Jason Michael Webb
Slave Play, Lindsay Jones
The Sound Inside, Daniel Kluger

Best Direction of a Play
David Cromer, The Sound Inside
Stephen Daldry, The Inheritance
Kenny Leon, A Soldier’s Play
Jamie Lloyd, Betrayal
Robert O’Hara, Slave Play

Best Direction of a Musical
Phyllida Lloyd, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Diane Paulus, Jagged Little Pill
Alex Timbers, Moulin Rouge!

Best Choreography
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Jagged Little Pill
Sonya Tayeh, Moulin Rouge!
Anthony van Laast, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Orchestrations
Tom Kitt, Jagged Little Pill
Katie Kresek, Charlie Rosen, Matt Stine, and Justin Levine, Moulin Rouge!
Ethan Popp, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Bob Crowley, The Inheritance
Soutra Gilmour, Betrayal
Rob Howell, A Christmas Carol
Derek McLane, A Soldier’s Play
Clint Ramos, Slave Play

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Riccardo Hernández and Lucy Mackinnon, Jagged Little Pill
Derek McLane, Moulin Rouge!
Mark Thompson and Jeff Sugg, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Costume Design of a Play
Dede Ayite, Slave Play
Dede Ayite, A Soldier’s Play
Bob Crowley, The Inheritance
Rob Howell, A Christmas Carol
Clint Ramos, The Rose Tattoo

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Emily Rebholz, Jagged Little Pill
Mark Thompson, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Catherine Zuber, Moulin Rouge!

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jiyoun Chang, Slave Play
Jon Clark, The Inheritance
Heather Gilbert, The Sound Inside
Allen Lee Hughes, A Soldier’s Play
Hugh Vanstone, A Christmas Carol

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Justin Townsend, Jagged Little Pill
Justin Townsend, Moulin Rouge!
Bruno Poet, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Best Sound Design of a Play
Paul Arditti and Christopher Reid, The Inheritance
Simon Baker, A Christmas Carol
Lindsay Jones, Slave Play
Daniel Kluger, Sea Wall/A Life
Daniel Kluger, The Sound Inside

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans, Jagged Little Pill
Peter Hylenski, Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Nevin Steinberg, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical


*In categories with only one nominee listed, such as Leading Actor in a Musical, an affirmative vote of 60 percent of the total ballots cast will grant an award in that category

[WINNERS!] And the Dr. Kenny Scholarship Fund Recipients Are…

Because of the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to give my dad a proper farewell.  There was no funeral, no memorial, and no celebration of his life.

Someday in 2021, God willing, I will honor his wishes and travel to his home country of India and scatter his ashes in the Ganges River. (My prayers are with our relatives in Mumbai as their battle with the virus rages on.)

Until then, I’ve got the next best thing to a celebration of his life . . . because nothing, absolutely nothing, made my dad happier than encouraging young people.

That’s why I started the “Dr. Kenny Encouragement Fund” and the “Dr. Kenny Scholarship”. I wanted my Dad’s spirit to continue to be able to say “GO FOR IT” to young people pursuing a career in the arts . . . especially when it’s more difficult than ever to get out of the gate.

I was overwhelmed by the number of high-quality applicants for our first year of this gift and boy oh boy, picking FINALISTS was harder than producing a Broadway show, never mind picking two winners!

But I did. And I am pleased to introduce them to you below.

Both of these Art-treprenurs will receive:

What they’ve agreed to do:

  • Ask questions along the way so we can help.
  • Keep us updated along their journey to success.
  • Honor my Dad’s name.
  • And kick some theatrical butt.

Please meet the inaugural recipients of the first annual Dr. Kenny Encouragement Fund Scholarship! Congrats both!  And know my dad is smiling HUGE today!

– – – – –

Marelisse Navarro-Sanabria
Student of the Arts

School: Cornish College of the Arts
Major: Theater with a Concentration in Acting
Year: Freshman

What makes her special as a theatermaker: Her teachers describe her as an energetic and enthusiastic leader who is a positive influence on those around her.

What are your long-term career goals/aspirations?:

“Only by telling our story do people see the real us. I have always considered acting to be storytelling and as an actor I recognize that I do serve as one of many bridges between the Hispanic community and American media. My goal as an actress is to accurately depict and share these stories in the best way I can. And to do that I must continue to strengthen and improve my acting skills. Education is fundamental.”


“The entertainment industry is constantly evolving to portray all walks of life. As a woman of color this award aids in getting my story told and I’m more than thankful. This has been a difficult time for everyone but, there are two constants in life that calm me. One, time will carry on. Two, art will always persevere. Art illuminates the hope in times of pain and struggling. Art shows us we’re not alone. Art is humanity. So to every artist, keep persevering and don’t let anything stop your story from being told.”


Germono Toussaint
Composer, Playwright and Producer

Recent works include:
Surviving Together (short musical, 2019)
• Created with Music Theater Factory (MTF) and performed at MTF’s High Five Celebration
Sonny’s Song (full-length two-act play, 2018)
• Read as part of the National Black Theater’s Keep Soul Alive reading series
• Developed at the Sheen Center as part of an artist residency
• Developed with Rhymes Over Beats as part of an artist residency
Divine Retribution (short play, 2017)
• Performed as part of the NY Madness play festival

What makes him special as a theatermaker: Despite facing setbacks related to the effects of the pandemic, he is currently developing three complex and deeply personal new works rooted in his African American culture and heritage.

What are your long-term career goals/aspirations?:

“My long-term goal is to make a living doing what fulfills me creatively and to put all of my energy into what I was put on this earth to do. It is my hope that what fulfills me creatively will also educate, uplift, challenge, transform, and possibly even heal others. I want to make a living by creating plays, musicals, movies, and music. I also make a great effort to remain a person of character, live an authentic life, and to seek truth in all that I do.”


“Three things I have learned as an independent artist in NYC:
1. Your gifts, your struggles, and your purpose, are all divinely connected.
2. What is for you, is for you.
3. You are here for a reason. The world needs what you have to give.”

– – – – – –

If you’d like to help with my Dad’s mission and support emerging artists and art-treprenuers, please click here, or email me.  The Fund’s 501c3 status is in process.