Not-for-profit theatres contributed nearly $2 billion to the U.S. economy and attracted 36.7 million attendees, according to Theatre Facts 2012, released by Theatre Communications Group (TCG). Based on the annual TCG Fiscal Survey, Theatre Facts is the only in-depth report that examines the attendance, performance and overall fiscal state of the not-for-profit professional theatre industry.
The six major findings from the Trend Theatres include (five-year percentages are adjusted for inflation):
1. Attendance on the rise: Total attendance rose in each of the last two years, after a significant drop in 2009 that may be primarily attributed to the financial impact of the recession, and declined by only 1.8% between 2008 and 2012.
- Single ticket sales at a five-year high: 2012 saw five-year highs for both single ticket income and the number of single tickets sold.
- Subscriptions stabilize: While there were decreases over the five-year period in average subscription income (-13.7%), the number of subscribers (-15%) and the number of subscription tickets sold (-11%), there were increases from 2011 to 2012 of 3%, 1% and 3%, respectively.
- Subscriptions remain the second largest earned income generator for theatres, after single tickets.
2. An overall return to pre-recession levels: Total income growth over the five-year period lagged inflation by only -0.4%, and there were increases between 2008 and 2012 in roughly half of earned income and contributed income categories. After belt-tightening in 2009 and 2010, total expenses rose in 2011 and2012, resulting in virtually flat total expense growth vis-à-vis 2008.
3. Individuals and foundations leading the way: Total contributed income increased by 6.7% over the five-year period, with individuals consistently providing the greatest support, followed by foundations. The growth in these contributed income streams helped make up for significant decreases in support over the five years from the federal government, state governments and corporations.
4. Investment in theatre people: In 2012, payroll accounted for 54% of total expenses, and every payroll area was at its highest five-year average in absolute dollars and grew at a higher rate than inflation. Theatres added 3.5% more employees (full-time, part-time and jobbed-in) to their payroll from 2011. The payroll area with the strongest growth was artistic payroll, which increased 7% from 2011 to 2012 and 4.7% over the five-year period. The average number of actor employment weeks increased 3% from 2011 to 2012 and the average number of paid artists—including staff and contracted artists—grew 4.5% from 2008.
5. 50% of theatres ended 2012 with breakeven or better CUNA: In 2009, more than half of theatres had negative CUNA (Change in Unrestricted Net Assets, or total unrestricted income minus total unrestricted expenses), while the majority experienced break-even or positive CUNA in 2008, 2010 and 2011. For the theatres with negative CUNA in 2012, the majority of those negative bottom lines were not severe; in fact, 72% of theatres in 2012 ended the year in the CUNA span between 10% below and 10% above breakeven.
6. Working capital still needs work: Average working capital (unrestricted resources available to the theatre to meet obligations and day-to-day cash needs) was negative in each of the five years, dropping significantly from 2008 to 2009, declining further in 2010, improving somewhat in 2011 and declining again in 2012. At the same time, capital campaigns continued to leave theatres with substantial growth in investments and new, improved or expanded facilities, with a 24% rise in fixed assets over the past five years..