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Theatre Orangeville launching 50/50 raffle fundraiser

September 23, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“We’re working on bringing everybody back into the theatre,” said David Nairn, following the culmination of months and longing to bring people back into the theatre, now coming as soon as October 15. To help finance all the extras this involves, Theatre Orangeville is about to launch an online 50/50 draw.

Patrons of Theatre Orangeville are well used to this. Every live performance produced on the main stage has been accompanied by a 50/50 draw, the volunteers with their money aprons entice us to buy a sleeve’s worth or buy one – it is all the same – all support for “your theatre,” as the Artistic Director loves to remind us and there is always one winner, to split the money with the theatre – unless they donate it back.

“That’s the tradition,” Mr. Nairn joked, somewhat exaggerating: lots of people collect their winnings at the end of the show and go home.

Not the first at the 50/50 gate by any means, Theatre Orangeville is joining several other theatres and arts organizations bringing in 50/50 draws, as an excellent source of income.

“Drayton [Entertainment, operating seven venues across Ontario] was the first to go with this,” Mr. Nairn said. “Lighthouse Festival Theatre [Port Dover] runs one and Blyth – some others. Some of the winning tickets are a lot of money. 

“A number of theatres have taken in 50/50 draws, some as their sole source of income,” he continued to say. “By buying a group of tickets, patrons are supporting their theatres.”

The need for this initiative, for us to buy Theatre Orangeville 50/50 tickets is ensure we’re “supporting live theatre, for the PPE and all the protocols: keeping distance seating, everyone but the actors on stage wearing masks. Then there is all the cleaning between performances.” 

Mr. Nairn explained, “We have to hire a Covid science officer and follow all Covid protocols, with the extra work and the extra staff that demands for live theatre.”

Over the whole time of this pandemic, once the collaborative thinking and creativity that is Theatre Orangeville kicked in, once the performers were allowed back in the theatre – very few people, very carefully masked and distanced, with some relaxing to the provincial Covid rules. Yet, there were sheets of plexiglass or plastic sheeting dividing artists, the Theatre Orangeville team still designed and produced a long list of entertainments, for each of which they sold virtual tickets. Then came the “hybrids”, a mix of actors performing a play, which was filmed to be as close to theatre as filming comes.

Tickets for that, tickets to attend the first of the live but outdoor performances – not concerts, mind you, but real plays with an actor on the stage under canvas; seats in rows, carefully spaced.

What is next: in-theatre plays and the Youth Academy Programs require more financing than ticket sales can provide. Hence, an extended, online version of the standard 50/50 draw we all expect to share.

Said David Nairn: “Just like when people are going to film or take photos of a production in the theatre [which is not allowed], an usher has to remind them not to proceed.

“People are people. Taking a drink of water and forgetting to put their masks back on – someone needs to be aware.”

He emphasized, “Particularly around the Youth Academy. Because of Covid protocols, we have to have small size groups. This means I need to hire more staff to offer more classes to accommodate more children because we don’t want to turn any children away. We’ve never done that and we’re not starting now.”

As 50/50 is actually gambling, there are plenty of hoops to jump through: the purchase of tickets is strictly online.

“With this [income] we’re building a set again, for our first play this season, Same Time, Next Year – to move to a full theatrical experience,” Mr. Nairn was thrilled to say. “Getting back into the theatre, while in an effort to make our audiences safe and abide with all the protocols, we’re also using the 50/50 specifically to support the streaming in front of a live audience.

“Now with an audience and the cost of live streaming means there needs to be additional staff. This is edited on the fly, like live television, there are a bunch of differences. [Videographer] Sarah [May] and I will be calling the cameras; we’ll be out of the room, hopefully in the booth.”

He wanted to be clear: “There is a dedicated website There are levels, people must be 18 or older; must be located in province of Ontario. Our senior staff of Theatre Orangeville can’t buy tickets and win.”

He added, “We have a real history of raffles and tickets. The first theatre to do the 50/50 was Drayton and they had a prize of $140,000.

“It will be a revenue stream for us and hopefully – because it’s online, it’s viral, an awareness piece on many levels. People can actually see Theatre Orangeville and who we are. It’s a win/win situation. There are no 50/50 tickets in the theatre, for the time being, to see us through these anxious times. It has to be online, not in the theatre at the moment. Online becomes a very different thing; it took four months to get this set up. It’s administered by a third party.”

The online has the option to buy: decide how much, then click and pay with a credit card or pay-pal.

He said, “It will give you the numbers you have purchased. The ticket is chosen at random but there’s no room for shenanigans,” he assured us. “Headwaters is running a 50/50 too; a ton of organizations are doing it. And so, people can be given a lot of money, so it has to be totally on the up and up.”

Purchase of the 50/50 tickets is available now and the winning ticket draw is set for 12:00 noon on Monday, November 1, 2021.

To purchase 50/50 tickets from Theatre Orangeville, go to

And this must be noted “The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Raffle License is RAF1213972. Please play responsibly. The Ontario Problem Gambling Help Line is: or 1-888-230-3505.”

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