Non-profit nominations on Broadway? Are they increasing? A follow up.

Yesterday, I expressed my concern about the lack of commercial Off-Broadway productions up for the Off-Broadway Awards, aka The Lortels, and also the lack of commercial Off-Broadway productions period.

At the end of the blog, I promised to scour the nomination history of Broadway shows (or have my research assistant aka Katie do the scouring), to see if there was a similar trend on the Great White Way.

Here’s what Katie found out:


Year # Total Nominations # Nonprofit Nominations % Nonprofit Nominations Total # Nonprofit Productions
2002 90 12 13.33% 3
2003 92 22 23.91% 5
2004 92 27 29.35% 9
2005 107 25 23.36% 7
2006 103 33 32.04% 8
2007 106 23 21.70% 6
2008 112 34 30.36% 7
2009 116 30 25.86% 6
2010 112 16 14.29% 7
2011 109 34 31.19% 9

As you can see on the graph, the good news is . . . there’s no trend.  The noms are all over the map over the last decade.  And that means, the flood waters may not be receding, but they are not creeping up that hill just yet.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop trying to bail us out.  Because if there’s one fear that I have for the Broadway over the next couple of decades, is that the only folks that will be able to produce are giant corps (like movie companies who own the content that we’re turning into musicals) and non-profits.


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  • David says:

    When I was in college, not terribly long ago, I did a paper on the history, and potential future, of Off-Broadway. In speaking with the Artistic Director of a not-for-profit Off-Broadway theatre, I asked if he thought Off-Broadway had turned into what could be called “Mini-Broadway” or even “Pre-Broadway.” He said yes, and told me that due to the rising cost of production, even in supposedly “little theatre,” it was going to be non-profits with hefty subscription bases that carry the weight, since putting money into a commercial Off-Broadway production was getting so risky. He said that most likely there would have to be a way for commercial producers and non-profit producers to combine forces so that the kinds of shows that simply won’t work on Broadway still get seen. Food for thought.

  • Nathan says:

    Why would it be bad if non profits produced more on Broadway? I don’t mean to be contrary, and I’m sure you have a good point, but I’m just not sure I completely understand. Is it just unfortunate (disasterous really) that we are loosing the ability to make money on making theater?

  • I think this article is looking at things the wrong way. Yes, the idea of corporate entities (profit or non-profit) producing the majority of Broadway plays seems like it would stifle creativity or at least the freedom of a couple people to get together and put on a show. However, I see the potential for storytelling that spans across genres from film to theater to literature to video games, etc. And that sort of structuring is not only very exciting in my opinion, it would benefit from have a corporate entity that can oversee all the works, connect the dots and shoulder the burden in case one of the media used to expres the show, like a musical, are not profitable. There is a lot of good that is possible, that’s all 🙂

  • Rafi Levavy says:

    An statistic that would be interesting is the percentage of nonprofit nominations vs. the percentage of productions on Broadway that are nonprofit. (For example, if 20% of the nominations are for nonprofits, that would mean very different things if 20% of the Broadway shows that season are nonprofit than if 80% of the shows that season are nonprofit.

  • Mark Nassar says:

    If “non-profits” continue to gain ground in the theater world it will create another, what I call, museum art ala Ballet, Opera, Philharmonic, etc. Fabulous in production value, but tired as a relevant art. Once the arts are subsidized by corporations and the government you will see quality of function, but a lack of artistic edge. How cutting edge can a theater company be when it’s sponsored by Bank of America? Anyone who is a theater producer understands the difficulty of competing against the most successful non-profits. The rent on theaters is even discounted for non-profits. It stifles theater entrepreneurs who don’t have the cushion of subsidization.

    • Nathan says:

      Mark – it’s really interesting that you say that. As someone who has worked mostly in non-profits, I’ve always defaulted to an alternate point of view. How can you truly be creative if you’re always worried about the bottom line? If you’ve got someone else sponsoring, you can stop focusing on what will make money and really focus on how the telling the story / making the art you want. I don’t disagree with you – some nonprofits certainly worry about losing their sponsorships if their work is too risky. But the argument works both ways.

  • noach reshef says:

    I am looking this blog some months already and now dared to write … I wrote a play to an off broadway theater…. they will never do Kinky Boots and there the productions have a maximum of 15/20 shows run.. come on the way to Broadway is no as short as look on the map.Ken published last weeek or some ,results and Lion King is the king ,they have Elton John, the cartoons the movie the designers, the merchandising ,the newspapers
    the parks the packages , may be my idea is better but how can we compite only with our heart and give this artistic edge, when I write sing/ play/compose the music and the script and just dream with cartoons and merchandising,bands orchestras, moovies etc,

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