Theatre Communications Group Releases New Research

By: Nov. 29, 2011

According to Theatre Facts 2010, not-for-profit theatres contributed nearly $1.9 billion to the U.S. economy, and attracted 31 million attendees. Released by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the publication is the only in-depth report that examines the attendance, performance and overall fiscal state of the not-for-profit professional theatre industry. TCG also released Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Fall 2011, a report based on a recent 10-minute snapshot survey conducted in collaboration with the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO).

“Taken together, these two reports reveal a field responding to the challenges of the recession through increased collaboration and innovative programming, with earned income growth outpacing inflation in 2010,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. “However, theatres still face many challenges, as contributed income decreased, working capital saw a five-year low and overall expenses outpaced income. In spite of those difficulties, Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Fall 2011 saw 89% of respondents saying their situation is holding steady or on the upswing.”

Theatre Facts 2010 is based on the TCG Fiscal Survey, compiling data from theatres’ fiscal year ending between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010. First published in 1980, the annual Theatre Facts report examines unrestricted income and expenses, balance sheet, attendance, pricing and performance details. Theatre Facts 2010 was written by Zannie Giraud Voss, Chair and Professor, Division of Arts Administration at Southern Methodist University, and Glenn B. Voss, Associate Professor, Marketing Department, Cox School of Business, SMU, along with TCG staff members Christopher Shuff and Ilana B. Rose.

The Taking Your Fiscal Pulse snapshot survey captured the most recent state of affairs for 350 participating theatres. The report conveys actual and projected activity for theatres’ fiscal year ending anytime in 2011. Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Fall 2011 was written by Clayton Lord, Director of Marketing and Audience Development at Theatre Bay Area, and TCG Director of Management Programs Christopher Shuff.

Following are highlights from Theatre Facts 2010, now available on TCG’s website, A narrative version published in American Theatre magazine provides case studies and anecdotes from prominent managing leaders, and is available at

The Universe section provides the broadest snapshot of the industry for 2010, examining an overview of 1,807 not-for-profit theatres—171 theatres that completed the TCG Fiscal Survey and 1,636 theatres that filed IRS Form 990. Using an extrapolation formula based on annual expenses, findings include:

Theatres offered 163,000 performances that attracted over 31 million attendees.
The majority of theatres’ employees are engaged in artistic positions, with an average workplace consisting of 60% artistic, 27% technical and 13% administrative personnel.
50% of total income came from earned sources and 50% from contributions.

The Trend Theatres section provides a longitudinal analysis of the 113 theatres that have responded to the TCG Fiscal Survey in each of the past five years (2006-2010). Findings include:

62% of theatres ended 2010 with a positive Change in Unrestricted Net Assets (CUNA), as compared to 43% in 2008 and 41% in 2009. This can be largely attributed to robust growth in single ticket income (largely driven by price increases over time) and endowment earnings (investment income rebounded by 183.4% from 2009 to 2010).
Average working capital (unrestricted resources available to the theatre to meet obligations and day-to-day cash needs) was negative in each of the five years becoming even more severe in 2009 and 2010. However, capital campaigns left theatres with substantial growth in investments and new, improved or expanded facilities, with a 33% rise in fixed assets over the past five years.
Contributed income dropped by 11.6% in 2010 from a 5-year high in 2009, and by 5.2% from 2006. The greatest support consistently came from individual contributions (trustees and other individuals) and foundation support, although from 2009 to 2010, support from these sources dropped in the double digits. There were also declines from 2006 to 2010 in corporate, state and local support.
Average single ticket income exceeded subscription income each year and was at a five-year high in 2010, outpacing inflation by 16.7%. The number of single tickets buyers rose by 3% over the five-year period.
Average subscription income decreased 15.1% over the 5-year span, 14% fewer subscription tickets were purchased and the number of subscribers fell by 15%. The one-year change from 2009 to 2010 for subscription income, subscription tickets and the number of subscribers was -8.5%, -6% and -4%, respectively.
There was a slight growth of 0.7% in resident attendance from 2009 to 2010 with a corresponding decrease of 3.3% in the number of performances offered. From 2006 to 2010, overall resident production attendance dropped 3.6% and the number of performances fell by 1.4%, however there was double-digit growth in attendance over the five years for both staged readings/workshops and other performances (pre-show events, lectures, late-night cabarets, etc.).
Despite belt-tightening in many areas in 2009 and in 2010, total expense growth for the 5-year period exceeded inflation by 3.1%. All expense categories were cut in the past year, with the exception of physical production expenses and occupancy expenses, with total expenses falling by 2.7%.

The Profiled Theatres section provides the greatest level of detail for the 171 theatres that completed TCG Fiscal Survey 2010. This analysis breaks down information by budget group and in aggregate. Among other findings, this section highlights the labor-intensive nature of theatre, as evidenced by the fact that roughly 55.5% of total expenses—over half a billion dollars in total—goes to compensation (including salaries, benefits and royalties to playwrights).

Following are highlights from Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Fall 2011, now available on TCG’s website,

63% broke even or ended the year with a surplus.
72% reported similar to or higher than expected overall attendance.
70% reported overall ticket income equal to or greater than budget.
55% - 70% reported contributions similar to or higher than expected from all sources—government, foundation, corporate, trustee and other individuals.
74% reported operations expenses to be on or below budget.
40% reported having cash flow problems this year.

For 50 years, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre. TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 13,000 individuals nationwide. TCG offers its members networking and knowledge-building opportunities through conferences, events, research and communications; awards grants, approximately $2 million per year, to theatre companies and individual artists; advocates on the federal level; and serves as the US Center of the International Theatre Institute, connecting its constituents to the global theatre community. TCG is North America’s largest independent publisher of dramatic literature, with 11 Pulitzer Prizes for Best Play on the TCG booklist. It also publishes the award-winning AMERICAN THEATRE magazine and ARTSEARCH®, the essential source for a career in the arts. In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre.


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