The Playgoer: Off Off B'way: The Numbers

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Off Off B'way: The Numbers

Kudos to the folks at New York Innovative Theatre Awards for taking on--and completing--a massive effort to survey and document that unquantifiable phenomenon of the business of Off Off Broadway. Or as it is known to some of us--most of New York City noncommercial theatrical activity.

Campbell Robertson offered a streamlined summary in Saturday's Times. Here are some random numbers that stuck out to me when reading this aggregation of data from 73 Off-Off companies for the 2006-2007 season:

  • There were about 1700 productions ("unique listings") presented under the category of Off-Off Broadway for the season.
  • Of the companies responding, the bulk (60%) produce somewhere between 2-5 productions a season. (About 25% do just 1. Only 15% do more than 5.)
  • The vast majority (84%) of companies rent performance space, not own.
  • As per the current Equity Showcase Code, over 80% of productions run only 16 performances or less. (Average is given as 14 perf's.)
  • Speaking of Showcase...A majority, almost 2/3rds of the survey respondents do pay actors something. But on average, only $420 for the run.
  • The ratio of Equity to Non-Equity productions in the season: 60%/40%, respectively. (So, yes, a majority in the survey are Equity.)
  • A majority of those surveyed (56%) produce exclusively new work. An additional 11% combine new and old.
  • Budgets: The average Off-Off budget is cited as $18,000. 2/3rds that season came in below $20,000; 1/3rd over.
  • "An average of 36% of the overall production budget is spent on performance space rental. The average cost of a space for a 4-week rental is $6,600, which averafes $1,650 per week and $470 per performance (based on a schedule of 14 performances)."
  • Of production values, the most is spent on sets. (7% of entire budget, on average.)
  • For those that employ a publicist, the average expense is $1790, or 7% of the budget.
Lastly, the aggregate spending of the entire Off Off Broadway community is estimated in the survey as over $30 million.

$30 million pumped into the NYC economy every year, Mayor Mike! Of course, most of it's going to real estate landlords, publicity outlets, printing shops, and the New York City Transit System!


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