Picture this. You're sitting in an Off-Broadway or regional non-profit theatre waiting for the premiere of a new play to begin. The house lights dim and a spot comes up on the stage, into which steps the visionary Artistic Director of this company.
He or she makes a warm and humor-laced introduction, graciously expressing appreciation for the work you are about to see and its great cultural worth. Somewhere during this curtain speech there will be an appeal to give. This is, after all a non-profit theatre company and, as we are frequently reminded, ticket sales generally don't cover more than 30% of expenses, if that.
What you won't hear during this curtain speech is a list of fees paid to consultants on a variety of tasks that were once considered the purview of the theatre's actual staff but which are increasingly being farmed out to hordes of consultants who seem to be doing quite well for themselves, mentoring the non-profits out of the "kindness of their hearts."
Here for your amusement, is a random list of some line-items culled from a recent look at some Form 990s, the public tax returns filed by non-profit theatres all across the country. In all fairness, since I have not had the time to embark on anything approaching a comprehensive investigation, I have chosen to present this data anonymously to protect the theatres from ridicule and scorn, which they so richly deserve. It seems to me it wouldn't be fair to name names without having looked into everyone's closet.
But get a load of this!
$75,000.00 Annual salary for retired Founding Artistic Director
$210,009.00 Annual salary for Clerk of the Board of Directors
$146,500.00 Fee to a "Philanthropic" Consultant
$99,889.00 Fee to a Real Estate Consultant
$63,400.00 Fee to a Management Consultant
$135,080.00 Feasibility Study for Endowment Campaign
Not bad, huh? Seems there's a whole league out there taking their cues from the folks who currently occupy the Oval Office.
I have one word for this sort of hoohah. Haliburton.