–ORIGINALLY POSTED ON DIRECTOR LAB WEST YAHOO GROUP ON Wed Aug 27, 2008–
Okay everybody… this is a can of worms so get ready.
Gloves off. Thought as it has been a while since I last wrote anything here that I would kick start a little discussion about some things that I am thinking about a lot lately… salaries and working in arts management in the theatre.
I basically LIVE on TCG’s Artsearch Website (for those of you who don’t know about it – it’s basically Monster.com for the professionalÂ non-profit theatre world)… and I constantly look at the jobs that IÂ could do there, the ones that I would like to do, and the ones that IÂ will never get to do – at least for a very long time. I’d say it’s aÂ pretty decent cross-section throughout the year of what the market isÂ like. When you check in every day or two you really get a sense ofÂ what the world is looking for.
Here’s my totally opinionated run-down of what I see:
1.) If you want to go into DEVELOPMENT – actually any sort of fundraising you should be jazzed cause that’s more than half of whatÂ they list.
2.) If you are a Managing Director you are set because you willÂ always be needed if you love theatre and understand money – lots ofÂ these around the country – continually.
3.) If you are in Marketing Communications & or Publicity you will also find lots of good paying gigs out there to supplement your artsier leanings.
4.) If you are in Education you will more often than not find plenty of stuff low on the totem pole. Lots of Associates and assistants needed.Â A smattering of Directors and Managers as well – in weirdÂ places – like the Midwest and Florida. Lots of people want individuals with Theatre for Youth degrees so if you have that
leaning GO back and get that MFA. Which brings me to what should beÂ like #1.B on my list…
1.B) If you have a Master’s your life should rock because you canÂ pretty much ALWAYS get a job and teach just about anything you’veÂ touched at just about any Junior College or Private University outÂ there. There are so many jobs in Advanced Education, I can’t evenÂ tell ya. It’s kind of ridiculous that with my 2 year Certificate inÂ acting from PCPA and a BFA in Directing I’m basically chopped liverÂ compared to Joe Schmo with an MFA from ANYWHERE… just what I’mÂ seeing.
5.) If like me, you are interested in the Artistic Director positionsÂ or anything mid-management (company manager/associate producer/assistant to any of the above) that will send you up that ladder,Â there’s a bit out there and they are really scattered all around theÂ country – things that I just couldn’t pursue because my wife would kill me if I moved us to rural Mississippi or Missouri or even Maine or any number of small states that may begin with an “M”.
6.) Beyond that I do see lots for people who could be TechnicalÂ Directors – in cool places like Hawaii – why oh why didn’t I go into Technical Direction?
7.) There are occasional listings for Literary Manager folks andÂ Dramaturgs but they are few and far between.
And that’s pretty much the gist of what I’m seeing…
So back to my story… I did find a potential artistic director gig in Pennsylvania recently that actually looked like something I couldÂ do and was in at least a somewhat interesting place – not theÂ boonies. So I submitted my stuff and I heard back – and they wantedÂ to know for their sake and mine before we danced any more how muchÂ money I would be looking for. This brings me to the MAIN point of myÂ note here… Money. I wondered about this a bit. You see, I’ll justÂ come right out and share so we can actually friggin discuss this. I make about $40k, was making about $60k in LA in casting and while IÂ am not totally embarrassed to be making 40k in the theatre, know thatÂ I am worth more – that I have made more and could make more and probably should make more.Â I’m not money driven – really. I was a headhunter in the staffing world and was making about 40k base aÂ decade ago and one of my best friends just left that same company where he was making 220k doing the exact same thing I did. I COULD recruit for a living and make that. I’m not doing that. I’m chasing my bliss – livin the dream – tryin to be a theatre guy. I know that there are people on here who have never made 40k doing anything and it may seem a lot to some – and in some ways it is… but it’s NOT -Â really. I live in San Jose. It’s the Silicon Valley – a veryÂ expensive place to live. People make craploads of money here. And I don’t. But it’s the theatre and I’m working so I shouldn’tÂ complain… right? Wrong.
So this search for what I should tell this theatre in Pennsylvania led me to discovering this resource. If you go to google and type inÂ Guidestar you will find this fundraising resource. There are a few ofÂ them out there. I found it all via this site if you want to read myÂ source…
There are these things called 990’s – which is basically a tax formÂ for the IRS where a non-profit has to make declarations about earnings and costs and what it’s top 5 officers who make over 50k make. I discovered what a lot of people in this theatre world make and LOTS was put into perspective. The 60k that I was thinking to ask my current employer for was exactly what I should be asking. It’s what the last person in the Production Manager role at my company made and what I will be asking for in a week when I chat with my AD.Â 60k was also what the founding A.D. at the theatre in PennsylvaniaÂ was making and what I should be asking for there. What blew me awayÂ was the cross section of what people who I admire are making as
FYI – This is all PUBLIC info…
The top 6 on my list for the 2006 tax year:
Robert Falls Artistic Director $325,000 Goodman Michael Ritchie Artistic Dir/Dir $302,500 CTG
LIBBY APPEL ARTISTIC DIRECTOR $219,638 OSF
Martha Lavey Art Dir $180,000 Steppenwolf
DAVID J. ESBJORNSON ART DIR/EX-OFFICIO $175,000 Seattle Rep
TIMOTHY RUTH NEAR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR $162,173 SJ REP
Sheldon Epps Artistic Dir $160,000 Pasadena Playhouse
While the AD at the Perseverance Theatre in Alaska is making 36k or the AD at the “Next Theatre Company” in Chicago is making 44k
I guess what I am saying is that all this stuff we’ve been chatting about here – the Mike Daisy article, the future of American Theatre – all of it – it’s powerful stuff when you think about what our “non-profit” theatre world is really worth. When you take a look at how much money it takes for the Goodman to put up a season or the Taper or Ashland. I mean why can’t we all make a bit more? Why do the people on the lower end of this totem pole not even know what their bosses make? Mine makes 135k. How much is his job really worth?
How much is mine?
Daniel Paul Wilson