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Theatre Communications Group Releases Report on Not-for-Profit Theatre's 'Fiscal Pulse'

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre, released the data from a recent snapshot survey yesterday. The survey, Taking Your Fiscal Pulse, was designed to measure financial trends in the field from fall 2008-winter 2009. Conducted in January 2009, the survey highlights fiscal data from member theatres, budget projections and re-projections for year-end (typically, June 30), and strategies for surviving the current economic climate.

"The news from the field shows that theatres, like all Americans, are tightening their belts, revisiting their expectations and deploying both creativity and initiative in their problem-solving," said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG.

In overwhelming numbers, the theatres indicated that they are intensifying their efforts with respect to communication with stakeholders, revising internal planning, increasing use of technology and social networking, and sharing services with other organizations.

The majority are also implementing budget cuts. 77% of the theatres reported that they are re-projecting their expenses for the year with the top four actions being a reduction or freeze of salaries, a reduction in traveling/conferences, new ticket discounting and a reduction in the number of administrative staff.

Important to the findings is the fact that 31% of the theatres reported that they would break even and 47% reported an expected deficit of 10% or less.

"This environment has been extremely challenging, and resident theatres in this country are, by and large, holding up very well. But they will continue to need the support of their audiences, contributors and local officials in order to stay afloat through this rough period-and continue bringing great theatre and education programs to their communities, along with jobs for artists, administrators, educators and technicians," Eyring continued.

Revenue projections that are showing somewhat lower than expected results compared to original budgets are subscriptions, non-holiday ticket sales, holiday show ticket sales and calendar year-end fundraising campaigns. The majority of theatres reported that class and tuition income stayed on track.

The majority of respondents expected to either be on track or somewhat lower than their original budget goal in terms of overall ticket sales, government contributions, foundation contributions, corporate contributions, trustee contributions, non-trustee individual contributions and expenses. Of those revenue sources, the highest percentage of theatres expected lower than anticipated revenue from corporate contributions and non-trustee individual contributions.

Regarding liquidity, 59% of respondents expected to encounter a cash flow problem in the coming year, while 41% did not. 21% of those theatres that use credit lines to manage cash flow had difficulty securing lines of credit this year.

The snapshot survey was designed to be completed in less than 10 minutes with answer options from checklists, multiple choice questions and rating scales. Although the data is unverified, the results serve as an invaluable benchmarking tool for theatre leaders as they maneuver through this difficult period and also supply timely information for theatre stakeholders - trustees, foundation and corporate executives, policy makers and the national press. A companion report included detailed data organized by Budget Group and is available in the Snapshot Survey section of the TCG website.

There were 210 participants in the survey, with the bulk of respondents being in either Budget Group 3 or Budget Group 2. The TCG Budget Groups breakdown as follows:

Budget Group 1 $50,000 - $499,999

Budget Group 2 $500,000 - $999,999

Budget Group 3 $1 million - 2,999,999

Budget Group 4 $3 million - 4,999,999

Budget Group 5 $5 million - 9,999,999

Budget Group 6 $10 million or more

This information is available at


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