Uniting is overrated. It’s time to divide Off Broadway.

Recently, one of the staffers from my General Management department brought me a quote for some services we needed for one of our Off Broadway clients.

“NAME OF PROVIDER is quoting $XXX.  But if we were a non-profit it would be 15% less.”

Smoke must have started leaking out of my ears, because the staffer slipped the piece of paper on my desk and practically ran out the door (and I think she barred it from the outside).

Here’s a fact.

There are fewer commercial Off Broadway productions than there were twenty years ago.

My research also indicates that are more non-profit Off Broadway productions than there were twenty years ago, but honestly, this blog isn’t about the non-profits.  I’m not here suggesting that they’ve got it good.  Because they’ve got their own challenges that I would never want.

What I am stating is that the two business models are entirely different.  While there was a time when they were more closely related, the DNA has been diluted, and it’s time to treat them like the independent industries that they are.  How can one business that can accept donations, can get grants, can receive income from shows they produced years ago and may own their own theater, be lumped into the same category as a brand new show that is starting from scratch, that succeeds or fails on its economic merits alone?

And for anyone to suggest that just because a show is, by definition, “commercial” or “for-profit” and therefore should pay higher rates than afforded others isn’t looking at how that industry is faring.

There are fewer commercial Off Broadway productions.  There are fewer commercial Off Broadway venues.  And without a doubt, there are fewer commercial Off Broadway successes (in the hundreds of shows that been produced commercially over the past several decades, I count less than ten that have recouped).

In any other industry, when faced with facts like that, vendors, agents, service providers, unions, government, etc. wouldn’t charge companies more for these services.  They’d give the entire industry a stimulus package!

The time has come that Non-Profit and Commercial Productions are made separate and not equal, so that both parties can present their issues independently, and negotiate deals that take into account their unique economic model and the current producing environment, and not someone else’s.

 

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