Centerpieces and Special Reports

Directed to theatre staff and board members, this section offers in-depth analyses, case studies, and resource tools on specific management issues, as well as reports on research conducted by TCG's Research, Policy & Collective Action department. Topics include governance, marketing, development, education, and general management issues and are curated by specialists in each area. Select from the topics below to see all Centerpieces or Special Reports in that category. Please contact Ilana B. Rose, associate director of research & collective action, at irose@tcg.org with any questions.

Management Issues

November 2011: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Fall 2011: A Report on the Fiscal Health of the National Not-for-Profit Field

350 theatres participated in the latest snapshot survey on the field's current state of affairs, conducted in collaboration with the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO). The report conveys actual and projected activity for theatres’ fiscal year ending anytime in 2011. Read the Theatre Facts 2010 and Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Fall 2011 press release here.


March 2010: The New Normal: One Year Later, A Report Based on TCG Board “Phone Tree” Conversations—Spring 2010

This is a follow-up to TCG’s February 2009 report, The New Normal, which examined the state of the field in response to the global economic crisis of 2008. The original report was based on conversations between TCG board members and TCG theatres. One year later, TCG’s board of directors again activated the “phone tree,” reaching out to 476 member theatres in January and February 2010 to see how theatres were faring. This report summarizes those conversations, based on the following four questions:
1. What short-term fixes did you undertake that will have/have had long-term impact?
2. What do you think the core challenge is in the coming three years for your own theatre and for the wider field?
3. What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on now OR what do you want to be working on but can’t?
4. Finally, a one word answer: Are you in better/worse/same shape now as at this time last year?


March 2010: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Spring 2010: A Report on the Fiscal Health of the National Not-for-Profit Theatre

The latest in a series of snapshot surveys aimed at capturing theatres’ most current state of affairs, Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Spring 2010 marked TCG’s third collaboration with the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO), the result of which was participation by 435 not-for-profit theatres. This report presents national findings from this snapshot survey, including actual and projected activity for their fiscal year ending anytime between fall 2009 and fall 2010, the state of endowments and cash flow and theatres’ current concerns and priorities. Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—Spring 2010 is being released in conjunction with The New Normal: One Year Later, a report based on TCG board “phone tree” conversations that took place between TCG board members and member theatres in January and February 2010.


October 2009: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—August 2009: A Report on the Fiscal Health of the National Not-for-Profit Theatre

Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—August 2009 was TCG’s third Taking Your Fiscal Pulse snapshot survey. It also marked TCG's second collaboration with the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO), the result of which was participation by over 465 not-for-profit theatres and a greater sense of the state of the national theatre field. This report relays national findings from this snapshot survey. Theatres reported on the actual and projected activity for their fiscal year ending anytime between spring 2009 through winter 2010. Download the Printer-Friendly PDF.


October 2009: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—August 2009: A Report on the Fiscal Health of the San Francisco Bay Area Not-for-Profit Theatre Community

This report on the Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—August 2009 snapshot survey focuses on the 106 participating theatres that are based in the San Francisco Bay Area and are members of Theatre Bay Area (TBA). While the spotlight stays on Bay Area theatres, there are occasional comparisons to non-Bay Area theatres from across the country but only when significant differences surface.


October 2009: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—August 2009: A Budget Group Breakdown of Data from TCG Member Theatres

This is a compilation of the responses from the 215 TCG member theatres that participated in the Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—August 2009 snapshot survey. The data is presented with a breakdown by budget size and is meant for informal use by TCG members.


April 2009: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse: A Report on the Fiscal Health of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Community

Following the completion of TCG's Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—January 2009 snapshot survey of its members, TCG relaunched the survey for members of the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO). This report is a compilation of Bay Area data— collected with the assistance of Theatre Bay Area— from that survey, which was conducted over the period of February to April 2009. It offers the most comprehensive look at the fiscal health of not-for-profit theatres in the Bay Area since the beginning of the economic downturn.  Download the Press Release (PDF).


March 2009: The New Normal

In December 2008 and January 2009, the board of directors of Theatre Communications Group reached out to TCG’s 495 member theatres to gauge the state of the field in this challenging time. The board asked three basic questions:

  • 1. Have you done anything in the short-term to deal with the current economic situation, and if so, what?
  • 2. Have you done anything in terms of long-term planning in response to the current economy, and if so, what?
  • 3. Do you have specific suggestions for how TCG can help you get through the current economic situation?
These conversations generated enormous response from theatres all over the country—nearly 200 members participated in phone calls or email discussions with board members. Members shared their strategies, brainstormed best thinking on a variety of issues and gave us insight on how their organizations are thinking and planning during this difficult economic time. The New Normal is an executive summary of these “phone tree” conversations. It is available in pdf.

 


January 2009: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—January 2009

This report is a compilation of the data from TCG's second Taking Your Fiscal Pulse snapshot survey, which was conducted in January 2009.  It highlights fiscal data from members during the period of fall 2008-winter 2009, as well as budget projections and re-projections for participants' fiscal year end. The report also includes notes on various Budget Group outliers that were discovered in the analysis. Download the Press Release (PDF) for Taking Your Fiscal Pulse: January 2009.


January 2009: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—January 2009: Budget Group Analysis

This companion report to Taking Your Fiscal Pulse: January 2009 includes detailed data organized by Budget Group.


September 2008: Taking Your Fiscal Pulse—September 2008

In addition to regular research efforts, such as the annual Fiscal Survey, TCG launched a program in 2008 that would provide more timely and up-to-date fiscal information for its members through snapshot surveys conducted at varying points throughout the year. The results serve as an invaluable benchmarking tool for theatre leaders and also supply timely information for theatre stakeholders—trustees, foundation and corporate executives, policy makers and the national press.


February 2006: 2005 Employee Benefits Survey Report

The Employee Benefits Survey polls member theatres on topics related to their employee benefits package, including health insurance, retirement plans, paid leave and more. This report reflects the data from 140 theatres that participated in the 2005 Employee Benefits Survey.


April 2004: Internal Giving: Staffing Strategies for the Development Office

Many not-for-profit theatres around the country are struggling as earned revenues are decreasing and expenses are on the rise. In this environment, the development department is feeling the pressure to do more with less. Seattle Rep's development director Dawn Rains explores the challenges that development directors around the country are currently facing:


December 2003: Using the Balance Sheet to Diagnose your Theatre's Health

The balance sheet is the key to understanding a theatre's overall financial health. Yet, how many theatre managers can say the balance sheet is a regular part of their financial toolkit—used not only to monitor financial progress and to identify and plan for future investments, but also to make better financial decisions that support and enhance the theatre's artistic work? This Centerpiece provides a practical guide to understanding and identifying several key components of the balance sheet and explains how to calculate the key indicators of your theatre's financial health.


June 2003: The Board's Role in Succession Planning

A successful leadership transition can be a seamless, productive and unifying experience, but only if the board and executive leader are prepared for it. This article provides a roadmap for the detailed groundwork a board should undertake before and after a leadership transition including the importance of a succession plan that develops organically from the organization's strategic plan, questions the board should ask itself and potential candidates, how to create or revise an executive director's job description and shaping the work of a search committee. This article is a reprint originally published in Succession: Arts Leadership for the 21st Century (Illinois Art Foundation, 2002), a compendium of surveys, focus groups, interviews and white papers examining leadership succession from every direction.


February 2003: The Manager's Toolkit: Employee Manuals, 360-Performance Reviews and Diversity

Thinking about creating an employee manual? Learn best practices and useful tips for creating an employee manual from the management students at the Yale School of Drama. Other topics from the students' HR toolbox include an expanded article on the 360-degree performance review and an article on diversity in the workplace.


June 2002: A Look at Best Practices

Management students at the Yale University School of Drama share the results of their research into human resources "best practices," looking for models to encourage communication, team building, conflict resolution and empowerment. They relate some of the more interesting HR stories and examples, including the value of having an HR director, samples of employee review tools, interview techniques and the "value based management" business philosophy used to facilitate interdepartmental communication.


November 2000: Managing Away Bad Habits

In an article from the Harvard Business Review, two psychologists and management consultants discuss the tested, effective ways that managers can help employees recognize and correct the "bad habits" which translate into consistently problematic behavior. They identify six troublesome behavior patterns and describe ways to overcome these patterns.


December 1999: Helping Founders Succeed

While the term "entrepreneur" has a positive connotation in not-for-profit parlance, "founder" suffers from negative associations—yet founders are all entrepreneurs. This article examines how to successfully nurture, manage and govern an arts founder, including discussions of the mindset of a founder, the three stages of separation to establish organizational permanence and helping founders succeed.


August 1999: A Closer Look at Volunteer Programs

Volunteers are essential to a theatre's operations and volunteer coordinators face many challenges, including how to design programs to be effective and "fresh" and how to engage the entire staff in creating a welcoming, equal environment for volunteers. Eight Smart Tips for Successful Volunteer Involvement provides a concise checklist for creating a successful volunteer program with suggestions for incorporating volunteers into the infrastructure of your organization.


April 1999: Establishing and Implementing an Effective Harassment Policy

In order to fulfill its legal responsibility, each theatre must establish, implement and monitor an effective harassment policy. In the interests of meeting this responsibility, Centerpiece authors Robert Batterman and Sheri L. Gilberg provide a summary of steps that may be taken by theatre managers and supervisors to prevent sexual or other forms of unlawful harassment.


July 1998: Grassroots Advocacy Kit

Even if you do not consider yourself a political activist, you are probably advocating for your theatre every day with a variety of constituencies: audiences, potential audiences, funders, patrons, local press, artists. Just as you already “market” your theatre to these groups, you should consider your elected officials just another segment of your community with whom you stay in regular contact. The most effective and influential way of communicating with your legislators is a personal visit to their district office. Legislators are usually interested in meeting with constituents. This “Grassroots Kit” should help you in conducting visits with your legislators at all levels of government.

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