The Actors Company Theatre Receives Welcome Grants

The Actors Company Theatre Receives Welcome Grants

By Robert Silverman

August 9, 2012


Photo by Stephen Kunken
Cynthia Harris in TACT's revival of "Lost in Yonkers"
Despite an ever-increasing number of mouths hungry for a slice of the fundraising pie, New York theater stalwart The Actors Company Theater (TACT) recently announced that they were awarded a $50,000 matching grant from arts philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, and an additional $50,000 grant from the Agnes Varis Trust to provide funding towards the salaries of their performers and allow for reduced-price tickets during their 2012–13 season.

These grants have expanded the artistic scope of TACT’s upcoming season. “The primary intent…was not to increase individual salaries, but rather to allow us to look at plays without thinking too restrictively about cast size,” TACT Co-Artistic Director Scott Alan Evans told Back Stage. “Last season we had a total of 11 actors on our mainstage. This season, we will have a total of 21. Additionally, the grant allowed us to raise the minimum salary by nearly 15 percent. Had we not had the enormous advantage of Adrienne’s gift, we wouldn’t have been able to program the season we have.”

TACT’s windfall is all the more remarkable considering that grants for non-profit theater companies are usually designated for project-based activities rather than to provide support for an organization as a whole, even for a component as seemingly essential as the salaries of working actors.

According to Evans, TACT has applied for actor salary grants in the past, but this marks the company’s first grant for a ticket subsidy program. Even for a 20-year-old company, this is not uncommon.

The salaries and/or fees paid to performers working Off-Off and Off-Broadway often make up a small portion of the overall budget and are often sacrificed in favor of inflexible expenses. According to a recent report from the National Arts Journalism program, actors’ salaries comprised approximately 11 percent of the overall producing budget of an average Off-Broadway non-profit contract. In addition, box office income often has to make up any fundraising shortfalls which often results in less experimentation and more known commodities, resulting not only in less-ambitious work and fewer employment opportunities.

Whether these grants represent a shift among funders remains to be seen. But for TACT, the funds will go a great length towards allowing the company to fulfill its artistic mission.


The Actors Company Theatre Receives Welcome Grants

By Robert Silverman

August 9, 2012


Cynthia Harris in TACT's revival of "Lost in Yonkers"
PHOTO CREDIT
Stephen Kunken
Despite an ever-increasing number of mouths hungry for a slice of the fundraising pie, New York theater stalwart The Actors Company Theater (TACT) recently announced that they were awarded a $50,000 matching grant from arts philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, and an additional $50,000 grant from the Agnes Varis Trust to provide funding towards the salaries of their performers and allow for reduced-price tickets during their 2012–13 season.

These grants have expanded the artistic scope of TACT’s upcoming season. “The primary intent…was not to increase individual salaries, but rather to allow us to look at plays without thinking too restrictively about cast size,” TACT Co-Artistic Director Scott Alan Evans told Back Stage. “Last season we had a total of 11 actors on our mainstage. This season, we will have a total of 21. Additionally, the grant allowed us to raise the minimum salary by nearly 15 percent. Had we not had the enormous advantage of Adrienne’s gift, we wouldn’t have been able to program the season we have.”

TACT’s windfall is all the more remarkable considering that grants for non-profit theater companies are usually designated for project-based activities rather than to provide support for an organization as a whole, even for a component as seemingly essential as the salaries of working actors.

According to Evans, TACT has applied for actor salary grants in the past, but this marks the company’s first grant for a ticket subsidy program. Even for a 20-year-old company, this is not uncommon.

The salaries and/or fees paid to performers working Off-Off and Off-Broadway often make up a small portion of the overall budget and are often sacrificed in favor of inflexible expenses. According to a recent report from the National Arts Journalism program, actors’ salaries comprised approximately 11 percent of the overall producing budget of an average Off-Broadway non-profit contract. In addition, box office income often has to make up any fundraising shortfalls which often results in less experimentation and more known commodities, resulting not only in less-ambitious work and fewer employment opportunities.

Whether these grants represent a shift among funders remains to be seen. But for TACT, the funds will go a great length towards allowing the company to fulfill its artistic mission.
 
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