Posted by Bruce Miller
Let's face facts. The recession has kicked Barksdale Theatre in the shins just like it has everyone else. Sadly, recovery in the nonprofit sector lags about two years behind recovery in the for-profit sector.
Contributions donated by governments, corporations and foundations are based on earnings from the previous, not the current, fiscal year. So these contributions always fall one year behind recovery. In fact, they usually fall two years behind. Institutional givers tend to hang on to their funds until they have two years worth of evidence that the recovery is real, not just an aberration.
They're wise to do so.
Ask any nonprofit and they'll likely tell you that 2010-11 contributions from governments, corporations and foundations are at a five-year low. Gifts from individuals are starting to turn the corner, thank goodness.
That means we're re-energizing our efforts to ask for financial support from the community. Just like our good friends at public television and radio, we're going to have to keep asking until our budget revenue goals are met.
We're also increasing our cost-cutting.
Our biggest expense cuts thus far have been the elimination of six staff positions (mostly through attrition), elimination of company contributions to staff retirement plans, 25% reduction in company contributions to staff health insurance, and a graduated, across-the-board reduction in staff salaries (with those earning the most taking the biggest cuts).
The last few years have been all about belt tightening. No one here makes very much. At least we all know that the suffering here is reflective of the financial pain felt by much of the nation.
Our priority now is to protect current staff positions from additional job elimination and salary/benefit cuts. If we are able to maintain that status quo, our next goal is to restore salary reductions. Thereafter we want to decrease stress by restoring some of the cut positions. Finally, we're committed to funding a staff pay raise, something our incredibly loyal employees haven't seen in four years.
This hoped for recovery and progress won't be easy, but we're giving it our best shot. Competition for ticket buyers, school field trips, and contributions increases regularly. Competition is good, but it can also put a strain on earned revenues.
We've already made all the big expense cuts we can make. Expenses this year between our two nonprofit companies are more than $100,000 under budget. So now we're going after some smaller expenses.
Starting immediately, we're eliminating two long-established perqs: closing cast parties for Barksdale productions (we eliminated closing parties at the end of shorter Theatre IV runs about four years ago), and company dinners held between the afternoon and evening tech rehearsals of Barksdale shows.
We will have nine Barksdale mainstage productions next year--five on the Signature Season and four at Hanover Tavern. Each closing party is budgeted at $200, and each tech dinner at $350. Annual savings, therefore, will be about $5,000.
We know many of you who work with us on our shows will miss these fun fellowship opportunities. We'll miss them too. We also know you wholeheartedly support our efforts to keep Barksdale growing and going strong.
Thanks for your understanding, talent and hard work.