The Playgoer: Not So Well-Endowed

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Not So Well-Endowed

Even the mighty Oregon Shakes--and its fabled endowment or all endowments--has not been spared the economic hard times:

Even with the second strongest ticket sales in its history for 2008, the Ashland festival was hit hard by poor returns on its investments and endowment fund, resulting in a $750,000 deficit this year and an anticipated deficit of$1 million in 2009.
Wow, I can picture an AD saying right now, what I would give even for a deficit of a million bucks!

Funny story, by the way, about the unique nature of this loss. The recent American Theatre/TCG "Theatre Facts" report (on the "health" of the nonprofit theatre industry from '06-'07) notes how dependent the bigger theatres have become on their endowments for their overall income. For better AND, now, for worse.

So, in the "good times" of '06-'07, we're told that even while subscription income grew only 4% and "single ticket earnings slumped nearly 7 percent" that's not where the money was:
Theatres welcomes a 19-percent rise in interest and dividends between 2003 and 2007, while endowment income increased by 360 percent, and capital gains hurtled upward by 3,728 percent (yes, you read that right).
Who woulda thunk it, that nonprofit theatres would be among the prime beneficiaries of Republican capital gains tax cuts.

Well no more, my friends--it's Obama time!

(Sorry, but AT isn't putting the Theatre Facts summary online. But full report is here.)

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