It's WTF Wednesday again! Last week, I asked a lot of questions. This week, I'm going to share some answers.
Over the past few months, two situations have arisen that have required us to stop and examine the way we conduct business--one being the way we manage our productions and the other being the way we manage our finances. We'll discuss the former in more detail in next week's column, but for now, let's talk about money.
It's a taboo subject, even in the theatre community: Who has it? Who is getting paid and how much? Where is the money I donated going? How much do things actually cost?
So what's happened with WTF's money? Well, paying women to do work or to share their art is something we are passionate about it. Because of our passion (and, let's be honest, our inexperience) we started paying more people more and more money before we really should have. In 2018, only our third year of operations, we paid almost $17,000 in artist stipends. These stipends paid out in small increments of $50, $100, or $300 may not have felt like a signifcant amount to the individual artists, but it was incredibly significant to our bottom line. We went from an organization that always had between $5000-10,000 in the bank to having to ask board members for stop-gap loans to help cover the checks that would be paid out at the end of a run. We kept promising money we didn't have.
It's not just paying artists. It was our intensity, doing too much, too fast. It was taking big, huge leaps off of big tall cliffs and believing we'd land on our feet. And most of the time, we pulled it off. And it was exhilarating. But there was a cost. A human cost (more next week) and a monetary cost...and these two things are very, very linked for a grassroots organization.
For several months now, our board's finance committee has been meeting with frequency. We've been studying our cash flow analysis and it became abundantly clear: we could not afford to do all that we'd promised to do this season. We've had to come together and make tough choices to figure out what to keep and what to scale back. Since we have grant funding to produce Freakshow by Carson Kreitzer and a longer time to raise additional funds, we have decided to go forward with this production. The other two plays that were to comprise our season, Lines in the Dust and Feathers and Teeth, will be produced as staged readings. We've learned that, for now, two productions in addition to our Festival are what we have the capacity to produce.
In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more and more about how we plan to live out our mission differently, better, more inclusively and sustainably and we hope you'll stick with us for the journey! In the meantime, we welcome your feedback and want to connect with you. Whether you want to talk about experiences you've had working with us, help out, or donate, WTF needs you. Email me, schedule a call with me, or join our Patreon community. I need you. WTF needs you. We will make actual change together.
Until next week,