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Economy Bit Me

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Footer, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I would put this in the punching bag, but I want to keep this one alive.

    We had an "emergency" faculty meeting this morning. The district is short by 16 million for the year due to the drop in state funding. They are currently putting a bill through the state legislature that would allow the state to put off the signing of contracts for next year by a month. So, all district spending is frozen. The district credit card in my pocket is now a paperweight. Doubt I will get to got to USITT not because my dept can not afford it, but because they won't be able to pay for a sub for me. I am just glad I bought a large supply of batteries and gaff a few weeks ago. All purchases now have to go through a review board process, which could back up for 2-3 weeks. Which means that for the show that I have in a month, I need to have purchases orders in a week ago in order to get it built. Woo Hoo!

    Oh... and I am a limited contract teacher, (because I did not sign my contract at the beginning of the year because I was under another contract) which means that I do not automatically get a contract for next year. So, that is always fun.

    Anyone else starting to feel this?

    For those of you at Regional theatres, how are the houses looking?

    Anyone lost any coporate sponsorships?
     
  2. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Yeah, we had the financial issues start at the beginning of this school year (a high school scenario here). When getting ready for our fall production we all of a sudden hit major roadblocks in our already complex purchasing process. All of our purchases/rentals now must be bid on by at least 3 seperate companies, which is a new procedure for us. It used to be if we've used them in the past they were set. No longer. We must take the lowest bid, no if/ands/or buts about it. Also our lumber used to go straight into a seperate contract through Grounds/Facilities. This now also needs to go out for bid. And like you said, all of our purchases/rentals must go through board review, so we had to get our paperwork in for next month's show a week or so ago.

    It's a royal PITA, but there's not much that can be done about it. Luckily, as part of a state grant that was approved in the fall just as the economy was starting to turn upside-down, they're going to be completely replacing our sound system this summer, which will alleviate some of the financial burdens incurred from renting wireless mics for our shows. But as for everything else, yeah, it sucks...
     
  3. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    We had similar issues here (I work in a California High School). Funds were frozen and are now only being used for critical items. Orchestra program was cut last year and it's just a matter of time before the Drama program is cut. California taxes and fees are going to greatly increase in the coming year. My wife and I have already made several "cuts" on our own (cable TV, no vacation this year, no more eating out, etc).

    I feel its going to get much much worse before it gets better.
     
  4. theatretechguy

    theatretechguy Member

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    Isn't this crazy? We just got a hefty grant last year for new equipment, and at the same time teachers and programs were getting cuts...

    I have to wonder just WHO they think will actually be using this new equipment...
     
  5. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Performing Arts Center Manager
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    Ya, houses all across the Detroit Metro area are no where near full, despite some decent offers. So many theatres are offering free tickets or 50% off tickets. A few venues canceled productions to buy in shows, or to do joint productions. Michigan has the highest unemployment rate at over 10%, that and all of the drama with the domestic auto makers, leaves us really hurting, not that that is unique to us in any way. And, of course, corporate giving and individual donors are WAY down due to the economy.

    One organization I am working with is building a new theatre, but that has been halted in its tracks for the next year due to banks not lending, even when we do have long term financing in place.

    To top it off, a few weeks back our govenor closed the Department of History, Arts, and Libraries with no real notice. Our state went from funding the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs from $27 million in 2002 to $1million next fiscal year for the whole state. With the closing of the department of AHL, that money now has to be voted on on the floor of the state house, so it will probable be tied up indefinately. VERY frustrating times.

    ~Dave
     
  6. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
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    I think this thread would fall under the "weathering the financial storm" thread that I started a couple of months ago, but I'm gonna post here anyway.
    Footer I feel for 'ya. Right after I posted my other thread we met and I had to shave $1k from each of my materials budgets for the rest of the season, at that point that meant $4k out of my yearly budget had just evaporated. That was just the Materials budgets, we wound up going through and slicing and dicing all over the place, anything that could be considered "contingency" was gone.
    I have been amazed, however, with attendance and donations. Our houses for Seafarer were incredible! We hit our sales goal two weeks into the run, with a 172 seat house that is no mean feat! String of Pearls, currently running on our mainstage, is doing quite well for itself also.
    We had our annual fundraiser Gala on Saturday night. I was prepared for a VERY disappointing turnout, a dismal Silent auction, and perhaps even a lot of people walking out of the place before we got to the Live auction, and Asks. Happily I was Wrong, Very wrong. Our attendance was complete. The live auction went well, not great but well. The Ask went much better than I had anticipated. I believe we made out "nut" for that evening. I'm not bragging, I'm relaying a bit of amazement. It seems as though Individuals are willing to step up and help out. We have, as most regionals and other non-profits, seen a lot of foundation Grants and Corporate sponsorships begin to recede to the horizon, something we hope we can get, but it my just be out of reach. It's still too early to tell if the increase in attendance and individual donations is going to make up where the Corporate and Foundation support is going to be lacking but Saturday night made me feel a little more hopeful.
    I think things are going to get worse before they get better, but I also think a lot of the public is getting fed up with a certain priorities. I think the lack of government support for the Arts and for Education in general is weighing heavily on everyone's mind. I also find it interesting that this year my kids sold a ton of Campfire candy, their both in Campfire USA, I truly expected a dismal year for them. Who's going to buy $5 boxes of candy with the economy like this? I don't know who they were but there were about 750 of them. I think the "common man" knows what is happening to non-profits, and they are willing to do what they can. Not to be Pollyanna-ish but I really feel a shift in priorities, maybe not a paradigm shift, not yet, but a shift in what we want to see supported and where we want to see our money going.

    Chins Up! I thought, I was afraid that I was going to be out of a job by the end of the season, just a couple of months ago. The air is clearing, a bit. Yes we will have to tighten belts, adopt a few more Labor intensive, money-wise, ways of doing things but I think we can do it. After all we're Creative people, we're really good at comming up with solutions for problems.
     
  7. Erwin

    Erwin Member

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    Canada seems a little calmer

    It is no Rose Garden north of the border, but it sounds like we are getting off easy here.

    We have had a few sponsorship issues, but nothing major. Our attendance has been a little low compared to the last few seasons. We are, however, a very small theatre company.

    I think the worst is yet to come for our community. It relies on the mining industry which has just announced 700 job cuts here.

    Time will tell, but I am certain that our company will continue on. Perhaps not the way we would all like to see it, but it will survive.
     
  8. mnfreelancer

    mnfreelancer Active Member

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    It's touching us corporate/rental type people too. Companies aren't holding nearly as many galas, banquets, large-group teleconferences and trade shows. Myself and my fellow techs are cut down to 32 hours a week without prior approval. The hotel properties we exclusively provide A/V services to are down between 30-45 % ! There's 0 money to buy replacement parts for anything but the most essential gear...$80 for a wireless handheld RF board? No. $45 for a S4 reflector? No. It's a lucky thing we're still buying gaf!
     
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I have 5 mics sitting at countryman out for repair right now, we'll see when I see those again, plus a technobeam in the shop.

    I know CES was down for the year, and the local convention center is also down for the year. The most of the conferences are still happening, just less production is going into them.
     
  10. beachcombah15

    beachcombah15 Member

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    Our District just voted the other day to cut $700,000 total out of our Middle and High school budgets. This has been split up into 7 tiers, each totaling $100,000 a piece. The cuts end up affecting all of the programs at the school, and the athletic program most heavily. Included in these cuts, there is a very large chance that out Tech Director and Assistant Tech Director positions are to be completely phased out. This is HUGE to our program as these guys completely take over the supervision of set design and construction. Bottom line is, without these guys we won't be able to use any saws in the shop (Must be over 18 supervision) and several elements of our crew would be affected. These positions pretty much ensure consistency throughout the attendance waves in high school while still educating the students to reach their highest potential.

    We are doing everything possible at this point to keep these guys in the place where they are, but some things are just inevitable.

    Several other key positions being sized down or cut that aren't directly connected with the drama program is: one full time janitorial position, the district's technology specialist, and one assistant principal (of 2).

    So what I'm doing at this point: Hoping for the best and planning for the worst.
     
  11. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Occupation:
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    I've had a couple of corporate projects get scaled back. Universities are being asked to cut all budgets by 10% and that number may go up). Working on the facility and system design end I am really much more worried about a year or two from now. Whether publicly or privately funded, the projects I'm working on now were typically funded before the economy tanked, which is why few are directly affected. But there are fewer projects being budgeted now, which means less work in the future. So for the commercial construction industry the crunch may actually really hit in a year or two.

    That's actually a problem I see in the stimulus package passed, there is a lot of money planned for infrastructure and some for arts and education but it seems like it will be several years by the time those funds are available and can then be assigned and applied. I don't think some people realized that dollars budgeted for construction now may not actually get realized to the economy for several years, much less money that can't even be budgeted for a couple of years.

    There are some bright spots. Private companies in good financial condition are looking at low interest rates, cheaper construction costs and there being more good people available to hire, so there are some opportunities there.
     
  12. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    I don't receive any direct district funding, other than my salary and the building, so there isn't much they can cut (yikes!). They already cut my share of rental money for equipment. Music is slated to go soon, which means they'll start looking at theater soon after. They froze all purchase orders three months early, which leaves me in the lurch for the final two performances, plus pre-summer maintenance and whatever else. We're in the middle of a major construction effort, and we'll see what even gets finished from that project.

    I also have some gear out for repair, on the district's dime, that I don't think I'll ever see again.
     
  13. VegasLites

    VegasLites Member

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    I know of a show here in Las Vegas where the budgets were cut by 30%, the salaried positions lost 10% off the top of their pay checks and the crew was cut to 32-35 hours a week. Everyone is taking a hit...everyone. The audiences are at about 75% with alot of those tickets as 2 for 1 for locals, free with a hotel room, etc.
     
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Occupation:
    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
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    Fortunately for us, most of our subscriber base bought this years season tickets before the major collapse. We actually were ahead in season ticket sales for much of the time that they were on sale. In general we have been playing to the size houses that we were expecting. I think that (at least around here) people are going to the theatre as opposed to taking high priced vacations and whatnot. On the other hand, if you visit the ski areas around here you will notice that they are much emptier than last year.

    We did have a "state of the theatre" meeting a couple months ago and while the world looks grim, it sounds like we are pretty well set up to weather the storm for at least the next two seasons. Our endowment lost about 25%, which was about the average for major investments. Some of our major donors have cut back on their donations, but our management says that we are in a place that we can make it. We have been told that we will most likely not be getting raises next season, but I don't think that will be too bad (for me anyway).

    What else doe this all mean. Well, the biggest thing is that we will spend a lot of time picking shows for next season with the goal of lining up a season that will sell tickets. We will do fewer lesser known or new pieces and lots of "standards." We will do pick-me-up shows and comedies and less "artsy" pieces. It makes sense, and hopefully it will make dollars too.
     
  15. What Rigger?

    What Rigger? I'm so fly....I Neverland.

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    Occupation:
    Polishing the brass on the Titanic.
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    Not at home, that's for sure.
    The SoCal theme parks seem to be taking similar hits, though nobody I know at any of them are losing anymore hours than normal for this, the off-season. A 'major' project at one of them has been re-thought. But I'm not at liberty to say. Bummer.

    Not all of them are re-structuring their admission prices either.
     
  16. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
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    Other problem with conventions here in Vegas was that it was specifically mentioned that if an institution received bailout money that they couldn't hold a convention in LV. I'm sure that it was more intended to sway companies from squandering their money, but I heard of at least one company that pulled its convention at the last moment to reschedule in San Francisco. They had to pay major cancellation fees and probably still paid quite a sum at the new location. It probably cost more, but then they didn't get the scrutiny of being in Sin City. Oh, I love the loop holes.
     
  17. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    In the original "coburn <R,Ok.> Amendment" he included a clause that no monies from the Economic Stimulus Package could be used for Theatres, Casinos, etc. < that's et cetera not E.T.C.> That may be why some companies originally pulled out of having a convention in L.V. since the monies would be going to a Casino essentially.
    Here in Portland a lot of companies have been hard hit the downfall in Corporate Activities. 9/11 had a huge impact on Corporate meetings and events here and it seems we are going through the same sort of thing now. Oddly enough we have two major shoe/apparel manufacturers based here in town. One is getting hit really hard and not having corporate meetings, the other has done quite well recently, due to demand in international markets, but feels it would be viewed as Hubris if they were to be having big meetings and parties so they have also severely cut back. Production companies are getting squeezed in the middle.
     
  18. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    We got nailed here too. We lost a tech fund that wiped out $20K of projects in fell swoop, lost a small equipment line item in our budget that killed, among other things, my incidentals and repair budgets, and the board of trustees dropped an overtime restriction and a salary freeze on us. I suppose I can't complain too loudly though, at least I still have a salary to freeze.
     

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