Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eligibility Requirement: Budget Cap

Thank you everyone for the enlightening conversation yesterday. That post will remain active so, if you have additional thoughts or questions about ticket prices please continue to add them to the comments for that post.

Today's topic is about the production budget cap eligibility requirement. Our current qualifications state that the "Total production budget must be less than $40,000 (between $0 and $40,000)."

Our study, Statistical Analysis of Off-Off-Broadway Production Budgets, which was conducted in 2008 reported that the average Off-Off-Broadway production budget was approximately $18,000 (this was based on actual money spent on a production and did not include the value of in-kind services or donations). 16% of the responding producers noted that their production budget was above $35,000.

The Basic Equity Showcase Code sets the total production budget at $20,000.

When setting the budget cap requirement, we wanted to be as inclusive as possible. We wanted to be able to include the scrappy, "skin of our teeth" producers as well as some amazing well established Off-Off-Broadway companies with larger budgets, some of which have long histories working in this sector and were among the people who helped found this community. We wanted to allow for inflation and rising costs (especially rent) and again growth within our community. So we set the budget cap on the upper edge of the curve, but well below what it would cost to mount an Off-Broadway production.

We have, over the last seven years, had a number of wonderful companies who are no longer eligible to be included in the awards process because their budgets went over the $40,000 mark. This is especially true for those companies producing musicals.

We have had several requests during this past season to increase the production budget cap to $50,000 or more.

Should we increase the eligible budget cap to include those productions with larger expenses?

Or should we keep the budget cap as is?

And why.

Also please take a moment to review the schedule of this week's topics as well as the ground rules for the conversation.


  1. I understand that musicals can cost a lot more than a regular play. But I can only dream of the day I can have a $40,000 budget.

    Maybe you should have a different budget cap for musicals.

  2. This is a much more important point. I think that $40,000 is high, but I can understand your reasoning and I'm willing to go a long with it. But really I think any higher is just pushing it too high. You'll end up alienating those of us working on small budgets.

  3. I agree I think $40,000 is the top of what could fairly be considered. Even with a musical.

  4. I agree, $40,000 is a lot of money for most of us and there are some voters who will not be able to discern the money they see on stage from the quality of the production.

    Personally I think $40,000 is already high. Leave it as is.

  5. I work with a company that had been nominated and even won an award from the NYITA. We produce musicals and for a quite a long time had been working to get on a seasonal contract. We were finally able to make it all work. But it also meant that our budget exceeded the $40,000 so we were no longer eligible for the awards. We were all very disappointed. We still feel like we are a part of the independent theater community, but we aren't eligible for the awards.

    I agree with the first person to respond to this and maybe you should have a different budget for musicals.

  6. I just want to respond to Anonymous 3's suggestion that "some voters...will not be able to discern the money they see on stage from the quality of the production." 75% of a production's scores come from other members of the Off-Off-Broadway community. They are either producers themselves or an integral part of a peer company. They know what it is to do this because they're doing it, too!

  7. Usually our budgets are $10K, $12K, $15K tops. But with our last production we got a special donation specifically so that we could rent a theater in the Theater Row theaters. It took up half of our budget. We were so proud of the production and all the work that we had done, but we couldn't register it cause we over $40K. We're an Indie company. We had a special thing we were all super psyched about and then totally pissed when we couldn't be a part of the awards.

    Usually I'd be right there with everyone saying $40K is high enough, but I can see why this is an issue.

  8. As a company that produces their mainstage shows with 5K or Less (usually less), its a really difficult thing to look at being in the same category as a show that has 50K or more to spend on a single show. I agree that more money doesn't always mean better quality. But if someone has 20K to spend on a set and we have 2-3K to spend on a set, how is that equal?
    40,000 is well above equity showcase code budget, allows for a good sized budget. 50K or more is just too much to make it an even playing field. Plus with the 40K that doesn't include in kind donations which can also up a production budget well beyond. Please keep it at the current budget level.

  9. Here's a thought--maybe the budget could exclude the cost of the space?

    For example, if you do a show at The Brick, you have a $0 theater rental budget, so your entire show budget can be $2000 or less, easily. It's when you add in the theater rental (as Matt posted, above) that things get wonky.

    What if the budget cap is $10k or $20k not including theater rental?