Friday, July 24, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Theatre Checkbook

Posted by Bruce Miller
It was my turn to sign checks this morning. Lucas Hall, our accounts payable manager, sends out checks two to four times a week. He rotates signing privileges among four of us, so that one of us doesn’t get stuck signing 100 to 150 checks at any one sitting.

In light of recent discussions about the significant costs of sustaining a professional nonprofit theatre operation in Richmond, it was interesting to me, as I was signing away about $25,000 this morning, to record this one tiny snapshot of what Barksdale and Theatre IV spend almost every working day of the year.

I was lucky. This signing didn’t include a show payroll. Show payrolls take the longest.

Here’s what we paid out to vendors today, rounded to the nearest dollar:

$ 3,522 – quarterly payment, Hugs evaluation
$ 598 – partial payment, printing of TIV 09-10 mainstage brochure
$ 778 – printing of TIV annual appeal
$ 553 – annual development trip expenses
$ 610 – HVAC maintenance, Empire & office
$ 145 – copier maintenance, office
$ 450 – set and costume storage – one month
$ 1,096 – partial payment, TIV 09-10 tour brochure
$ 112 – one night, Millie security
$ 1,199 – ad buy, newspaper
$ 3,380 – monthly electric, Empire, office, one actor house
$ 2,919 – monthly water/sewage and gas, Empire
$ 500 – website ad buy
$ 2,173 – set materials this month
$ 3,485 – monthly rent: office, parking, actor house
$ 354 – t-shirts for summer camp
$ 146 – brake repair, one tour van
$ 342 – ad buy, university student directory
$ 200 – monthly IT services, office & box office
$ 239 – Empire dumpster
$ 97 – gas for production van
$ 166 – copier maintenance, Empire
$ 25 – overflow answering service, TIV America
$ 278 – utilities, one actor house
$ 2,010 – monthly phone / Internet

These bills add up to approximately $25,000. All told this week, we paid out approximately $139,000. Our average weekly payout is $96,000. All told this year, we’ll expend approximately $5 million.

People often ask, “Where does your money come from?” Many people think there’s some sort of fund from which we draw to pay our bills. There isn’t. That $96,000 average weekly expenditure comes from the $96,000 we need to bring in each week. If the money doesn’t come in, it doesn’t go out.

In the case of Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV, on average, $38,275 comes in each week in Richmond ticket sales, $33,480 comes from tour revenue, $1,490 comes from miscellaneous revenue (playbill ad sales, concessions, facility rentals, special projects, etc.) and $22,275 comes in from contributions and special events. This means that approximately 23.3% of our revenue is contributed. The national average for a professional theatre is 40%.

I’ll crunch these numbers a little more in an upcoming post.

--Bruce Miller

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