The Playgoer: Best of Times, Worst of Times

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Best of Times, Worst of Times

There have been many boffo hits in the Off Broadway/Nonprofit NY theatre this spring. Many titles (Good Negro at the Public, Cripple of Innishman at Atlantic, Theatre For A New Audience's Othello) have extended their limited runs, sometimes repeatedly. But apparently that doesn't help the big picture.

Who would have thought that in the worst recession in decades, off-Broadway would be having a banner year? Buoyed by an unusual number of rave reviews and great buzz, off-Broadway productions are bringing in new audiences and setting records at the box office.

Yet in a Shakespearean twist of fate, despite all the success stories, the financial position of many off-Broadway theaters couldn't be more precarious. The majority of the city's 60 or so theaters are nonprofits, and fundraising has taken a big hit because of the economy, with many expecting donations to shrivel even more next year.

The sad lesson of this may be that ticket revenue alone simply is not enough--nor may never be enough--to sustain our nonprofit theaters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Worth noting that MTC lists almost 80 people in its 'staff' listing. Even assuming not all are paid or full time, that's still a lot. And what do the artistic directors get paid, anyway? Point being, is it possible the nonprofits are in bad shape despite good attendance because they're bloated and badly managed?