Friday, October 28, 2011

Ways to Save Theatresource

The financial reality of Theatresource is that we've always been in a deficit. If you ask three different Board members you'll get four different answers of how much a deficit we run every year.
I actually think it's more expensive to run than any of the numbers I've heard from Board members. My number of additional revenue (above and beyond what we normally get from rentals and present donations) is that we need an extra $50,000 a year.

But that doesn't matter.

Why? Because the Board is committed to closing the space.
People have stepped forward, offering to help find money, etc. But the Board is only interested in bringing in money for the "virtual" Theatresource 501c(3) that will exist after January 1, 2012. Don't believe me? Ask me to forward an email from the President, Courtney Birnbaum.
So although the Board would like you to believe that there's just no way Theatresouce could make enough money to cover this deficit, there are a lot of ideas of how would we raise revenue to become and remain solvent. Note that none of these are my own ideas. I can't take credit for them. I mean, except for the one.
  • Get 7 more Board members who would each donate $5000 a year. It's New York City. We haven't been actively looking for people. We could start.
  • Start a Theatresource company. Charge $300/year to be a member of the company. Do whatever it is that theater companies do. There are a number of people at Theatresouce, long-time volunteers, who are chomping at the bit to do this.
  • Do the Horsetrade model of theater rental. That is, rent out the space for upwards of three different shows a night. It's like being in the Fringe Festival all the time. (Or just do certain months this way.) This will be tiring. But you can also triple revenue.
  • Sell more liquor. Selling liquor does indeed bring in a lot of cash. The trick is the liquor license. We have actually been visited by vice cops (this seems more exciting than it actually was.) So the Theater has to partner with a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license. This has become a bigger pain in the tuchus over the last couple years, so we haven't been doing it as much.
  • Rent rehearsal space. $20/hour, 40 hours/week, 50 weeks/year? That's $40,000! Ha! About 6 years ago this was our big plan for becoming permanently financially solvent. And what happened? We built a rehearsal space and we ended up with huge noise issues with our neighbors. Essentially the wall built for the rehearsal space has acoustically coupled the floor to the ceiling (and the neighbor's bedroom) above. What could we do? Well, we could float the floor and the ceiling -- essentially acoustically isolating the room from the surrounding building. How much would that cost? Brrr... $20,000? Which is kinda low-balling it. And yeah, that would be on top of the roughly $12,000 we spent 6 years ago. 
  • Rent rehearsal space II or, we could rent out the window box as rehearsal space. Would anyone rent it? Would that work? I don't know. This, incidentally, is actually an idea I just thought of. Which is why it's the lamest idea on this list.
  • Rent the rehearsal studio as production office space to theater companies. Right now Blair, Maduka, and I share a 12' by 13' (I used to know, I should measure it again) space with no window and no HVAC at the back of the building for $500 a month. Upstairs with those beautiful windows looking out onto MacDougal Street? We should be able to get some companies to time-share that as offices. A total rent of a thousand a month? $1200? That's $24K/month of regular income coming into the building.
  • Partner with other theaters, work to attract new producers, etc. etc. Which is, you know, what we haven't been doing for a while. 

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