Number 31 – Money
I’ve spent almost the whole of today looking at spreadsheets and budgets.
Now, I’m generally a fairly pro-spreadsheet kind of guy. I appreciate them. I actually find double entry bookkeeping quite satisfying… But…
It is strange when you are working through budgets for theatre because you can’t help thinking: “oh god! Why does this cost so much?” But then you take a step back and realise that, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t cost that much at all! If you were any other business this would be relative pretty cash. Instead, you’re desperately trying to shave off a bit here and a bit there just to try and maybe breakeven – and that’s with funding.
No wonder small theatre companies are generally terrified of looking in detail at the money because it just doesn’t add up. Money becomes a dirty word because we just don’t have it.
Let’s put this in perspective and talk some specifics. Give any small theatre company £30k and it will transform their entire year. They will be able to mount a full theatre production and tour it to audiences across the country (Covid-permitting, of course). Every freelancer in that production will get paid for their time, skill and expertise. More to the point, the company will be focussed on creating an amazing piece of theatre, not worrying about the numbers or having awkward conversations about lack of funds.
Now, obviously you always want more money – give a company £30k they’ll be wishing they had £50k – but my point is this: in the grand scheme of things £30k is nothing but to us in theatre it is everything. I have no doubts that there will be many organisations (and probably a number of individuals!) around the country that routinely waste £30k. I’m sure even the bigger publicly funded theatres will waste similar amounts (probably much more) throughout the year.
I’m not necessarily advocating a mass re-distribution of wealth (though that would be fantastic) but what I am saying is this: if you do have money, spend it wisely, remembering that there are many companies out there who would thrive off the money you waste.