Those theatres that have other organizations within a short driving distance often have a relationship that allows the sharing of stock items between their companies.  Storage space is always critical and while having a stock available is very handy, the necessity of maintaining stock is always limited by the availability and accessibility of the space it is stored in.  Some non-theatre organizations such as furniture or “antique” stores are willing to lend out items from their floor stock for credit in the program or for a small rental fee.  Borrowing an item from an individual is also a common occurrence.  Finding the person who has a personal collection of whatever specific item is needed is like finding a gold mine. In all cases however those relationships must be guarded with great care and stewardship.  

Having insurance coverage for ANY item that is borrowed is mandatory.  Many organizations have some kind of theft policy but many items that will be borrowed fall under the deductible (often times $500 or even more) and, in the case where something gets damaged or lost or stolen then the full expense must be covered. 

Rental Form- Seattle Repertory Theatre

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Borrowing Props

Click below to view borrowing forms, invoice, and rental rules from professional companies.

                          STUDIO ARENA-PROP RENTAL RULES


                          DALLAS THEATRE RENTAL FORM

                         SKYLIGHT OPERA RENTAL POLICY

                         PROP RENTAL INVOICE- STUDIO ARENA

This is especially important for those items that might qualify for coverage under the theatres insurance policy, as most insurers require some kind of documentation for reimbursement.  Please check with your risk management person for details on your theatres insurance coverage and appropriate policy requirements.

Any items that are borrowed should be cared for as if they were the theatres own property, or better.  If you are going to borrow furniture be sure to arrive on-time and in an appropriate vehicle complete with moving dollies and moving pads to protect items while in transit. 

All items should be safely stored, maintained, and cared for with the highest regard.  If any alterations were done (with the owners permission) they should be restored to the original basis before returning unless you have explicit permission to not do so.  Any fabric items should be dry-cleaned or washed.  Furniture should be wiped down, vacuumed, or cleaned as needed.  Hand props should be properly cleaned and wrapped in storage boxes for transportation and delivery.  It is always wise to call ahead and arrange for prop return so you are guaranteed the props can be handed off with a minimum of inconvenience for all involved. 


    In the worst case, when something has been stolen, broken, or damaged it is important the production manager is notified so the insurance coverage process can begin.  This may mean repair to the item or complete replacement.  When replacement is impossible then full reimbursement will need to be made to the owner for the cost of the borrowed item.


Equally important is notification of the original owner who lent the items telling what happened, the extent of the damage, and what is being done to rectify the situation.  NEVER wait until you are dropping off a borrowed item to tell the person who lent it to you that something happened to it.  Nothing will ruin a relationship faster than returning damaged items.  Be honest.  Apologize. Tell them how the problem will be solved and how the prop is going to be repaired or replaced.            

Usually that means it comes out of the props budget and can be a costly unanticipated expense.  All to often theatres seem willing to take the risk for those items that fall under the deductible but it is wise to inform the production manager in cases where items are borrowed that are coming under a greater risk of being damaged.  This allows anticipation of what could be an additional expense, and understanding of the potential for budget “overrun".  This mentality often justifies the expense of NOT borrowing an item but finding a different solution especially when the risk is high that the item might be damaged. 

 For items that are at low risk and seem appropriate for borrowing, a standard borrowing form is often used to help document ownership and value as well as the expectations of how the object will be used, stored, cared for, and returned safely during the length of it’s use. 

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