Buddies in Bad Times theatre released a more detailed picture of its finances at its annual general meeting on Mar 10, showing that the theatre has a plan for getting out of its financial woes. In February Buddies cancelled two shows from its 2008-2009 season and replaced them with fundraisers after announcing that it was facing a massive budget shortfall.
The company posted a nearly $105,000 deficit in its 2007-2008 season due to a 20 percent slump in ticket sales, a decline in donations and sponsorships and rising operating costs.
Buddies’ artistic director David Oiye called the ticket slump a “sneak peek at the financial downturn,” noting that Buddies continued to win praise for its shows, including the Dora award winning Arthouse Cabaret and the critically acclaimed My Fellow Creatures.
The theatre is not in immediate danger from the shortfall thanks to a record $54,000 surplus that it posted in 2006-2007. According to Buddies’ financial auditor Massimo Siciliano the company has more than $80,000 in reserve as of Jun 30, 2008.
Still, it doesn’t take too long to spend $80,000 and Buddies needs to balance its books to maintain its theatre operations and to qualify for some critical government and private sector grants. Losing those grants could put the theatre in further jeopardy.
In order to save money Buddies cancelled Ed Roy’s new play Gay4Pay from this season to free up theatre space for a series of fundraisers and full-facility club nights through March. Gay4Pay was already postponed from the 2007-2008 season for unrelated reasons. Also cancelled was Ivan Coyote’s solo show You Are Here, which was to open in May.
“[The fundraisers] will hopefully see us through to a surplus to the end of the year, to address the previous year’s shortfall,” Oiye said at the AGM.
Oiye previously told Xtra he was hoping that Buddies would raise $25,000 from the fundraisers.
One fundraiser, a two-night remount of the Alistair Newton’s 2008 SummerWorks Festival hit The Pastor Phelps Project, was cancelled after Newton’s company Ecce Homo discovered it would have to pay its actors Equity wages for the performances.
Newton says that when he announced the fundraiser he thought it wasn’t covered by Equity guidelines, but after negotiations with the Canadian Actors Equity Association, he realized he would either have to recast two key performers who were Equity members, or pay them Equity wages. Equity members are not allowed to work in theatre for less than Equity wages.
Buddies was hosting the fundraiser at arm’s length and did not program another show to replace it.
Also noted during the AGM was the resignation of Buddies’ artistic producer Jim LeFrancois, who left the theatre in January. Buddies board chair Paul Halferty thanked LeFrancois for his service.