What price, Marley?

Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Location
Minnesota
I just got hired as the Production Coordinator at a small 2 venue performing arts center after being pandemic-out-of-work for over 8 months. Yay!

Limited storage space for stuff, limited budget, you know the story.

The performing arts center addition that includes the spaces I'm responsible for is still under construction. So, I'm in the middle of creating a lot of the foundational paperwork from tech specs to designing the rep plot to the pricing schedule for clients who want to rent the space.

Here is a funny question about pricing. We are a non-union house zoned as an educational theater in a mixed-use residential area. Our 2 100 seat spaces will be available for rent when our 3 resident companies aren't using the space. I'm having to come up with reasonable rental pricing for the use of certain equipment. Coming up with pricing for renting the space, additional labor for load-in/strike, electrics calls, etc. use of additional lighting instruments not in the rep plot, or consumables like gel, that's easy.

But when it comes to pricing for wear and tear on certain other equipment? I'm not quite sure what formula to use if something isn't out-right damaged to the point of needing replacement or expensive major repair.

Case in point: laying the marley floor. I know how much to charge for the labor of installing it and striking it. But how much should I charge for the use of it in the first place? (As in the use case of a renter who will be providing their own knowledgeable technicians who'd install it themselves and strike it themselves.)

I'm filing this under things you don't often think about until you are the one in charge of having to think about them. And, since we are a community organization, I'm trying to be on the low side of fair. We want people to be able to afford to rent us! Especially since I'm in an area with a strong dance community full of independent artists and young companies I hope we can serve.

tl;dr: How much should renting our soon-to-be lovely brand new Marley dance floor reasonably cost?
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
How many rentals until it's damaged and needs replacement? Are the resident companies renting the floor or does it come with the theater for them?

I've seen dance floors last 10 years (120 performances, 4 shows a year, 3 perf/show) and I've seen them badly damaged on their maiden voyage. Ballet? No problem. Opera? Let's have a chat with the carpenter and the props master... same for youth theater.
 
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Ben Stiegler

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 3, 2017
Location
Sf Bay Area
Tim's right about those who tread lightly, and those who spill their cokes. For lighting gear - are you LED, or halogen lamped? Figure the hours the light source will run, divide into the cost of the replacement item AND the labor to handle it (order, install, etc.) and you have some idea of a fudge factor for use.

Sound system - invest if you don't have already in a post-board speaker/room processor with an absolute limiter function - to protect your costly speakers from people plugging in when their source is already blasting at 200%, ground buzzes, etc. Tell us where you are - I'm in MN a lot during non-pandemic years, and worked in a lot of the smaller houses back in the day.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Location
Michigan
A very good touch point should be to reach out to your local rental houses. Get some quotes for the same or similar equipment. This is good for you, because it lets you know what the market is charging, and can also be a great piece of information to have when you run out, or need extra, or have an emergency, etc. No matter how much gear you have, you always want to know where to get more, and how much it costs. You don't have to price your internal stuff the same way, but it gives you context.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
Definitely a deposit for “mistakes were made” and you could go a percentage of the total cost of the Marley, 5-10% or a flat fee that feels reasonable 500-1000$.
You could also just double your labor costs and use that as the fee + a deposit.
 

Calc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2004
Location
Mid-Michigan
If you're pricing it separately, you need to clearly define what constitutes "knowledgeable technicians who'd install it themselves." If a renter sees two prices they're going to pick the cheaper one and make the dance dads figure out how to install it, with questionable levels of success. Even if you have a deposit for damage, the dance shows usually cluster into the same month so you could be hard pressed to replace it before the next one.
At the local roadhouse we install our Marley floor. Always. Each dance show usually ends up with a work call to set lights and preprogram anyway, and we can set/strike it as part of that so the additional labor is already built in.
 

Lextech

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2013
Location
Virginia
I ALWAYS lay the Marley for outside rentals. I don't need the floor to be laid incorrectly and have someone trip and get hurt, let alone opening up my facility to liability issues. If they want to save money, they can strike the floor under supervision. We charge $250 a week for a dance floor, including labor for laying it, that's rental and tape, but I work in higher ed so I don't need to make money, just cover costs. As for cost, I have often charged and been charged 5% a day in this industry plus consumables for rentals. Three days rental cost is a week. Does not always work out, we once figured out that the cost of a rental PA at that rate would never fly. Our floor is also 10+ years old so I think we have covered its initial cost. When we replace it then we will have a conversation on rental fees. As stated above, get a quote from a rental house, figure out your labor costs and go from there.
 

theatricalmatt

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 25, 2013
Location
New England
I figure laying the marley to be a four-person, four-hour call, though that might also include moving soft goods and taking care of other necessities for a show. At $25/hr, that works out to $400 to set and $400 to strike, plus a $200 rental fee. We cover the cost of gaff tape and spike tape, which eats into that overhead somewhat. It does make it a more expensive for dance performances -- dance school recitals can cover it, but it's difficult for small dance companies or individual choreographies to grapple.
 

TimMc

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2017
I figure laying the marley to be a four-person, four-hour call, though that might also include moving soft goods and taking care of other necessities for a show. At $25/hr, that works out to $400 to set and $400 to strike, plus a $200 rental fee. We cover the cost of gaff tape and spike tape, which eats into that overhead somewhat. It does make it a more expensive for dance performances -- dance school recitals can cover it, but it's difficult for small dance companies or individual choreographies to grapple.
Quickie dance show (ballet) move in call: 4 heads (Carp, LX, Props, Audio), Fly master, and 2 assistants (flex carp/LX). We can hang & circuit the on-stage part of the LX plot and lay the dance floor in the first 4 hours. After lunch we send the assistants up to the loading bridge to weight temporary electrics, reload weights to move house soft goods and hang show rags. LX does their focus while the assistants work with the props head. Usually we're done before the end of the 8th hour. My Local rocks.

Our PAC stopped owning dance floor before I started working there, and the smaller dance companies usually rent from one of the ballet companies or trade favors with an educational institution. Seeing how some of it looks when we handle it makes me wonder what they do with it between Nutcracker productions.
 

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