Budgeting Your Play

It's important to come up with a budget for your show.



Sample Budgets for Schools, Colleges, Community Theatres and Professional Companies
Raising Funds for Your Production
Bookkeeping
Typical Budget Items (Amateur Productions)
Typical Budget Items (Professional Productions)
Typical Budget Items (Musicals)
Typical Budget Items (Touring Shows)
Approaching Investors


Sample Budgets for Schools, Colleges, Community Theatres and Professional Companies

In the coming months, look for a sampling of budgets from a variety of levels of production.

Here's a sample budget for a high school production of To Kill a Mockingbird.


Stay tuned for more budgets coming soon!



Raising Funds for Your Production

Coming soon.



Bookkeeping

Coming soon.



Typical Budget Items (Amateur Productions)
 
Amateur Production of a Non-Musical Play
 
Note: While all of the budget items listed here are typical of amateur productions, none of them (with the exception of scripts) will necessarily appear on every budget. Not all directors are paid a salary or stipend—some are volunteers, and for some directing the play is part of their regular duties as a school faculty member. Depending on the needs of the individual show (and the expertise of the director), it may or may not be necessary to hire designers. Plays in the public domain don’t incur royalty payments. Logo packages and video licenses are not available for every show, and you may not choose to purchase them if they are. Many producers, especially of school productions, will have access to a performance space and won’t need to rent one. Ditto lighting and sound equipment, unless the show has very particular needs. If admission is not charged, or if seating is not reserved, tickets may not need to be printed. A show with very simple set requirements may not need a set budget, and one performed in contemporary dress may not need to purchase or rent any costume elements. Nor will all elements in the Revenue column necessarily apply. Some schools do not allow admission to be charged. More do not allow the sale of ads in the program. Most schools contribute all or part of the production budget, but some expect the theatre program to pay for itself.
 
Moreover, there are very few items on the list for which it is possible to even guess at the amount, without knowing a whole lot of specifics about the show and the program. Directors’ salaries or stipends can be nonexistent, a token stipend, or several thousand dollars. Designers, too, depending on their level of experience and on whether they are stipended faculty members or outside professionals, are paid a huge range of amounts. Hall rental might be anywhere from $1000.00 or less to many times that—many, many times, for union halls—and that’s not counting whatever personnel you have to pay. The cost of set, prop and costume materials will depend on the elaborateness of what the play calls for, the size of the cast, etc., as well as on how much can be borrowed or pulled from existing stock. Even the cost of hiring a police officer can vary widely from one community to another. (There are some items that are sort of predictable, of course. Scripts tend to cost less but not much less than $10.00 a book. Amateur royalties for a non-musical play are usually—but not always—less than $100.00 per performance.) Obviously the amounts for the revenue items are just as individual to each program, though not so much to each play. But if you start with a budget that contains all of the items listed here, you will be able to fill in the amounts based on your individual situation and your choice of play, and thus determine whether you can afford to mount the production, and what arrangements you will need to make to finance it. It boils down to doing the research.
 
Expenses
Director Salary/Stipend
(If director is paid.)
 
Set Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Lighting Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Sound Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Costume Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Police Officer
(If needed.)
 
First Performance Royalty
(Unless play is in the public domain.)
 
Subsequent Performance Royalties (x number of performances)
(Unless play is in the public domain. Often different from first performance.)
 
Scripts (x number of actors)
(Or script copying license, if available.)
 
Script Shipping
(If needed.)
 
Logo Package
(If available.)
 
Video License
(If available.)
 
Hall Rental
(If group does not have own performance space.)
 
Hall Security Deposit
(Most facilities will require a deposit against potential damage.)
 
Hall Insurance
(Many facilities will require renting groups to buy insurance for the event.)
 
Hall Custodian/Manager
(Many facilities will require the presence of a custodian or theater manager while an outside group is in residency.)
 
Lighting Rental
(Unless group owns the necessary equipment, or it is included in hall rental.)
 
Sound/Microphone Rental
(If needed, unless group owns the necessary equipment, or it is included in hall rental.)
 
Set Construction Materials
(Lumber, hardware, paint, etc.)
 
Costume Rental
(If costumes will be rented.)
 
Costume Construction Materials
(If costumes will be built.)
 
Purchased Costumes
(Any ready-made clothing or accessories that must be purchased.)
 
Prop Construction Materials
(Could be anything, really, depending on what props need to be built.)
 
Purchased Props
(Anything that cannot be built or borrowed.)
 
Makeup/Hair
(Unless each actor is required to purchase his or her own—which is a good safety practice, among other benefits.)
 
Publicity
(Posters, paid print, radio or television advertising, etc.)
 
T-Shirts
(May be sold to the cast, either at cost or as a revenue stream.)
 
Video
(If a video license has been purchased. Videos may be sold to the cast, either at cost or as a revenue stream.)
 
Ticket Printing
(If tickets are used.)
 
Program Printing
 
Food for cast during production week.
 
Food for concessions
(Unless donated by cast members or parents.)
 
Additional Expenses that Might be Incurred for Some Productions:
Dialect Coach Salary/Stipend
Fight Choreographer Salary/Stipend
Special Effects Rental
Flying Effects Company (Flying by Foy)
 
 
Revenue
Ticket Sales
(If admission is charged.)
 
Program Ads
(If ads are sold.)
 
T-Shirt Sales
(This is a relevant revenue item even if shirts are sold to cast at cost—so as to balance the purchase price in the expense column.)
 
Video Sales
   (Again, this is a valid revenue item even if videos are sold at cost to cast.)
 
Concession Sales
(If concessions are sold.)
 
School Contribution or other Donations
(If any.)
 
Hall Deposit Return
(Assuming no damage is done.)

 



Typical Budget Items (Professional Productions)

Coming soon.



Typical Budget Items (Musicals)
Amateur or Professional Production of a Musical

Note: While all of the budget items listed here are typical of productions of musicals, none of them (with the exception of scripts) will necessarily appear on every budget. Not all directors and music directors are paid a salary or stipend—some are volunteers, and for some directing the play is part of their regular duties as a school faculty member. Some music directors act as their own rehearsal accompanist, and if there are recorded accompaniment tracks available, one might not be necessary at all. Ditto instrumentalists for performance. Depending on the needs of the individual show (and the expertise of the director), it may or may not be necessary to hire designers. Plays in the public domain don’t incur royalty payments (there are not many plays that most folks would call musicals in this category, but there’s always Gilbert & Sullivan). Logo packages and video licenses are not available for every show, and you may not choose to purchase them if they are. Many producers, especially of school productions, will have access to a performance space and won’t need to rent one. Ditto lighting and sound equipment, unless the show has very particular needs. If admission is not charged, or if seating is not reserved, tickets may not need to be printed. A show with very simple set requirements may not need a set budget, and one performed in contemporary dress may not need to purchase or rent any costume elements. Nor will all elements in the Revenue column necessarily apply. Some schools do not allow admission to be charged. More do not allow the sale of ads in the program. Most schools contribute all or part of the production budget, but some expect the theatre program to pay for itself.

Moreover, there are very few items on the list for which it is possible to even guess at the amount without knowing a whole lot of specifics about the show and the program. Directors’ salaries or stipends can be nonexistent, a token stipend, or several thousand dollars. What you pay instrumentalists will vary. Designers, too, depending on their level of experience and on whether they are stipended faculty members or outside professionals, are paid a huge range of amounts. Hall rental might be anywhere from $1000.00 or less to many times that—many, many times, for union halls—and that’s not counting whatever personnel you have to pay. The cost of set, prop and costume materials will depend on the elaborateness of what the play calls for, the size of the cast, etc., as well as on how much can be borrowed or pulled from existing stock. Even the cost of hiring a police officer can vary widely from one community to another. Unlike with amateur rights to non-musical plays, both the royalty charges and the script rental or purchase charges vary enormously from one show to another and one program to another, often depending in part on the size of the hall. Obviously the amounts for the revenue items are just as individual to each program, though not so much to each play. But if you start with a budget that contains all of the items listed here, you will be able to fill in the amounts based on your individual situation and your choice of play, and thus determine whether you can afford to mount the production, and what arrangements you will need to make to finance it. It boils down to doing the research.
 
Expenses
Director Salary/Stipend
  (If director is paid.)
 
Music Director Salary/Stipend
(If music director is paid.)
 
Choreographer Salary/Stipend
(If choreographer is paid.)
 
Cast Salary/Stipends
(Professional productions only.)
 
Equity Fees
(If applicable, professional productions only.)
 
Rehearsal Accompanist
(If needed.)
 
Instrumentalists for performances
(If needed.)
 
Set Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Set Builders’ Salary/Stipends
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Scenic Painter(s) Salary/Stipend(s)
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Deck/Running Crew Salary/Stipends
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Lighting Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Lighting Installation Technician(s) Salary/Stipend(s)
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Light Board Operator Salary/Stipend
(More usual for professional than for amateur productions.)
 
Sound Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Sound Installation Technicians(s) Salary/Stipend(s)
(If needed, typically professional productions only.)
 
Sound Board Operator Salary/Stipend
(More usual for professional than for amateur productions.)
 
Costume Designer Salary/Stipend
(If designer is hired.)
 
Costume Crew Salary/Stipend
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Makeup Designer Salary/Stipend
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Makeup/Hair Crew Salary/Stipend(s)
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Police Officer
(If needed.)
 
First Performance Royalty
(Unless play is in the public domain.)
 
Subsequent Performance Royalties (x number of performances)
(Unless play is in the public domain. Often different from first performance.)
 
Script Purchase or Rental (x number of actors)
(Or script copying license, if available.)
 
Script Security Deposit
(If required.)
 
Rehearsal/Performance Accompaniment Package
(If desired and available.)
 
Script Shipping
(If needed.)
 
Logo Package
(If available.)
 
Video License
(If available.)
 
Hall Rental
(If group does not have own performance space.)
 
Hall Security Deposit
(Most facilities will require a deposit against potential damage.)
 
Hall Insurance
(Many facilities will require renting groups to buy insurance for the event.)
 
Hall Custodian/Manager
(Many facilities will require the presence of a custodian or theater manager while an outside group is in residency.)
 
Custodial Services
(If not provided by the hall, especially for professional productions—you can’t ask professional actors to clean their own dressing rooms.)
 
Lighting Rental
(Unless group owns the necessary equipment, or it is included in hall rental.)
 
Sound/Microphone Rental
(If needed, unless group owns the necessary equipment, or it is included in hall rental.)
 
Piano Rental
(Even if there’s a piano that lives in a rented hall, there’s usually a separate charge to use it.)
 
Set Construction Materials
(Lumber, hardware, paint, etc.)
 
Costume Rental
(If costumes will be rented.)
 
Costume Construction Materials
(If costumes will be built.)
 
Purchased Costumes
(Any ready-made clothing or accessories that must be purchased.)
 
Prop Construction Materials
(Could be anything, really, depending on what props need to be built.)
 
Purchased Props
(Anything that cannot be built or borrowed.)
 
Makeup/Hair
(Unless each actor is required to purchase his or her own—which is a good safety practice, among other benefits.)
 
Publicity
(Posters, paid print, radio or television advertising, etc.)
 
T-Shirts
(May be sold to the cast, either at cost or as a revenue stream.)
 
Other Themed Merchandise
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Video
(If a video license has been purchased. Videos may be sold to the cast, either at cost or as a revenue stream. Typically amateur productions only.)
 
Ticket Printing
(If tickets are used.)
 
Program Printing
 
Food for cast during production week.
 
Food for concessions
(Unless donated by cast members or parents.)
 
Additional Expenses that Might be Incurred for Some Productions
Dialect Coach Salary/Stipend
Fight Choreographer Salary/Stipend
Special Effects Rental
Flying Effects Company (Flying by Foy)
Harp Rental
 
Revenue
Ticket Sales
(If admission is charged.)
 
Corporate and Private Sponsors
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Local, regional or national grants
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Program Ads
(If ads are sold.)
 
T-Shirt Sales
(This is a relevant revenue item even if shirts are sold to cast at cost—so as to balance the purchase price in the expense column.)
 
Other Merchandise Sales
(Typically professional productions only.)
 
Video Sales
(Typically amateur productions only. Again, this is a valid revenue item even if videos are sold at cost to cast.)
 
Concession Sales
(If concessions are sold.)
 
School Contribution
(If any. Amateur productions only.)
 
Hall Deposit Return
  (Assuming no damage is done.)


Typical Budget Items (Touring Shows)

Touring shows bring their own unique expenses, as well as many of the expenses of more traditional, “sit down” productions. Touring shows themselves can vary, from four actors going out in a van for the day, to an entire company traveling for a major national tour. For the small-scale tour (let’s call it a day tour), anticipate the following potential expenses:

  • Van rental
  • Gas
  • Tolls
  • Parking
  • Per diem (daily allowance for performer meals)

Small-scale tours, which tend to be brought in by schools or other community groups, will tend not to have much in the way of set expenses (typically everything will have to fit in a large trunk or two), and lighting will likewise be minimal (whatever is available on-site). And, of course, there’s generally no theatre rental.

For a more extended tour, add the following to the day tour expenses:

  • Buses (rather than vans)—At this point, you’re probably talking about many more people, and so you’re likely to be traveling by chartered bus.
  • Truck Rental—Trucks are the norm for transporting larger sets, so you’ll likely have to contract with a company that does this sort of transporting.
  • Hotel (if applicable)—it is acceptable to have members of your traveling company of the same gender share a room (with two queen beds, for example), though if you have the budget, they will certainly appreciate their own space.


Approaching Investors

Coming soon.