Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Jonathan Reuning.
Last year, because the mortgage market collapsed and it seemed our country was facing the next Great Depression, many theater companies stopped producing shows and started producing fundraisers. Some trimmed their expenses by showcasing work in festival venues that offered brief but less expensive performance opportunities. Some abbreviated their regular seasons while others suspended operation entirely to wait out the recession. Some took a gamble and charged up their MasterCard and took advantage of industry discounts. A year later these combination of strategies allowed ailing OOB a chance to rebound.
I recently read how Ford Motor Company’s reputation for fiscal conservatism was popularly ridiculed for being out of touch with the day’s risk rewarding financial strategies. Of course we now know that Ford was the only US automaker able to decline government bailout money. Their reluctance to outsmart their own balance sheets rewarded them with a huge advantage over their crippled competition. What’s more, instead of being complacent at the top of a shifting heap Ford heavily promoted the value of their products. Some experts believe that Ford’s momentum will keep them dominant for decades.
“OOB and the recession” is my guest blogger topic which sounds pretty ominous but I’m excited to explore it. I think there are probably some lessons to take away from our experiences. It is hard to imagine any small venue theater professional unaware of the negative impact the economy has had on small (and large) theater companies, but you know….It might surprise some to learn that during these most challenging 12 months there were some companies that did more than survive. They flourished. I can’t talk about specific US clients but I’ll say it again, many companies brought in record audiences. They maintained or increased their financial stability during our worst economic year in memory.
How were they able to stay in the game? Did OOB companies that also operated as fiscally conservative businesses take leaps forward? How much luck is involved vs. strategic planning? Aren’t Indie companies supposed to be art smart but maybe a little business-stupid? Possibly, but I’ve never seen it. Would love to hear how you are outsmarting the recession. Also, what you would have done differently if you’d had a year or two with advanced knowledge of the economic downturn.