The Playgoer: How much does a New York AD make?

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Monday, March 31, 2008

How much does a New York AD make?

Hat tip to Ken Davenport (and to Slay for linking) for pointing to the Charity Navigator website. This online service tells you everything that's legally mandated public financial disclosure for all "charities"--including many nonprofits, which includes many...wait for it...nonprofit theatres. The data includes annual budgets and salaries.

This has been no secret and other commenters on this site may have pointed it out before. But I hadn't actually gone to the site till now. So here's what comes up on the "leadership" salaries for a few searches of our major NYC nonprofit theatres.

Hey, this is just public record. I'm hardly exposing anything or pointing any fingers. I just find myself asked often "what do the people running our big theatres actually make?" So, for better or worse, here's some idea of the range, in descending order:

  • Todd Haimes, Roundabout Theatre Artistic Director: $672,228
  • Bernard Gersten, Lincoln Center Theatre Executive Producer: $392,031 (Artistic Director Andre Bishop not listed)
  • Lynne Meadow, Manhattan Theatre Club Artistic Director: $395,824
  • Mara Manus, Public Theatre Executive Director: $276,074 (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis not listed)
  • Tim Sanford, Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director: $125,347
  • James Nicola, New York Theatre Workshop Artistic Director: $115,000
  • Charlotte Moore, Irish Repertory Company Managing/Artistic Director: $31,200

Interesting range, huh?

Note that the website does not include many smaller Off-Off companies--including even such prominent ones as Atlantic, New Group, or The Vineyard. I have no idea why, whether they don't count as "charities" or aren't large enough or what.

Look, I really don't begrudge any of these people making six figures. (Those that do! Sorry, Charlotte.) As the head of a major nonprofit institution I would expect the heads of Lincoln Center Theatre, for instance, to make nothing less. What the salary tells us, I think, has less to do with the demands and/or ego of the AD than with the self-image of the institution. I have a feeling whoever was running the Roundabout would be able to nab more than half a mil. (Although I guess being the guy who basically co-founded it and has run it for three decades doesn't hurt.)

Still--most fascinating is range, isn't it? Makes the competition between all these folks all the more tense, potentially.

Feel free to keep surfing the site for other companies and post interesting finding in Comments here. Let's also look beyond salaries and into what other stats like budgets and revenue reveal.


Sarah McL said...

If you're really curious, open up the Forms 990, which are available on almost all stored on the Charity Navigator pages.

You can also check for Forms 990. Guidestar lists pretty much any nonprofit that Charity Navigator doesn't.

You have to do a little digging, but you can find almost any executive salary deep in the heart of the 990.

What these forms don't usually list are the lowest salaries. Lynne Meadow may make $400k, but the administrative assistants are mostly making well below $30k.

Frankly, I think it's pretty disgusting. If you're going to give yourself that kind of money, you should pay the rest of your staff a living wage. Yuck.

Playgoer said...

Yes, Guidestar! Forgot all about that. A commenter posted here about that a long time ago, I think.

Thanks for reminding us, Sarah!

Sarah McL said...

Guidestar is better. Charity Navigator is pretty, but once you get past the diagrams and pie charts you realize there's not much there. Guidestar is pretty stoic, but offers data without commentary. Which I appreciate. And don't forget TCG - if you're lucky enough to have access to the unbelievable data mine of the Fiscal Survey online database (you have to be part of a participating theater), you can literally peek at the balance sheets, contributed income, actor employment weeks, whatever, of any of the other participating theatres.

Anonymous said...

The figure I'm interested in is the comparison between the highest-paid members of a theater and the rest - and I'd like to compare the gap to that in the corporate world. It's not just administrative assistants who are paid peanuts while execs get (deserved) six figures. What about actors and designers and playwrights and even dramaturgs? Fair guess that the management/development people make more than the artists.

Nick said...

Hi Garrett,

I have debating this issue on the dramaturg list so I'm up on some of these salaries in my research. Your blog advertisement above is for the Atlantic Theater Company production. So interesting to you perhaps, salaries there are:

Neil Pepe, artistic director $108,000
and his wife
Mary McCann, school executive director $83,000

Dan said...

Hey Garrett,

990s seem to be the datapoint of the moment! I just started a series on financial data in Chicago theatres, using the Guidestar data. We don't have a lot of high-flyers, but we do have the disparity.


Playgoer said...

Thanks, Nick, for that info. For the record, though, I just want to make clear the advertisement currently up at the top of the page was placed not directly by Atlantic but by the commercial team transferring "Almost an Evening" to a commercial Off Broadway run. (In which I assume Atlantic is a partner.)

While I did approve the ad (which is the procedure with Blogads) I did not solicit or ever deal with Atlantic Theatre co. directly about it. The order came from ArtsMeetsCommerce marketing.

Anonymous said...

I have watched this over and over again for the past 3 decades. The institutional theatres load up on administrative overhead and other programming -- no problem paying the staff, but they then turn around and insist that they can't afford to produce anything that has more than 5 characters and one set. Just where are the priorities? Where exactly is the government, corporate and foundation money going? What is being subsidized, the art or the administration of the art?

Anonymous said...

"Although I guess being the guy who basically co-founded it and has run it for three decades doesn't hurt." I think you were still speaking of the Roundabout, but I thought that Gene Feist and Elizabeth Owens founded it; and I don't recall Todd being at the top until the late-80s. Not that it matters, but I bet Gene never pulled in that kind of $. I hope he has a pension for his years there.

Also, I wonder: if we're gonna be comparing salary to $ put into shows, how about service organizations? I don't know what they pay their tops, but none of their $ actually goes into a show. I hope that the Arts & Business Council is helping someone, cuz I know I could produce at least a few shows with their $.

Nick said...

Garrett, you mean no real direct payola happening here? How boring. But “ArtsMeetsCommerce” marketing, that's a sweet name. At some level, that's always the talk of the town, no?

I like the definition of “commerce” in relation to theatre.

1 : social intercourse : interchange of ideas, opinions, or sentiments
2 : the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place
3 : sexual intercourse

Anonymous said...

Hey there! Thanks for the Hat Tip!

What I find most interesting about the site is when you compare what our peeps are making compared to other non-profits out there, that are, you know, fighting for world peace and curing cancer, and little stuff like that.