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Portland Stage Company (2013)

Portland Stage Company (2013)

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In 2013, the Portland Stage Company, a nonprofit regional theater company with an operating budget of $2.2 million, was approaching its 40th anniversary season. Located in Portland, Maine, the theater had a turbulent financial history. While the company managed, in general, to balance its annual budgets since 2000, during three of the last six operational years it showed a deficit between $76,000 and $100,000. Despite these financial strains, the company exceeded revenue projections in both the contributed and earned income lines by the end of fiscal year 2013. Significantly, the organizational structure had also stabilized after considerable staff turnover. Artistic and Executive Director Anita Stewart, who had been working diligently to create a sustainable organization since being hired in 1996, believed that now was the time to position the company for growth.

Only six weeks earlier, in May 2013, the board, along with Stewart and Development Director Gale Kurtz, compiled a document that outlined how potential capital campaign funds could be used to support the organization. Of the total campaign goal, $6 million was dedicated to the creation of an endowment. A 5% return would yield an additional $300,000 to support increased operations. An additional $6.4 million to $7.4 million was needed for building renovations. Urgent repairs consisted of replacing windows that, according to board members, were “ready to fall out”, and repointing the bricks on the front façade, as the bricks were susceptible to crumbling due to weather extremes. The current budget did not allow for a contingency fund for emergency repairs. Stewart’s first priority was to raise money to cover these needs.

Stewart knew that completing a multi-million dollar campaign required significant planning and infrastructure. She also needed to cultivate a donor base capable of supporting the funding goals. Several of the urgent building repairs needed to be completed within the next five years. Considering that the organization tended to raise money on an as-needed basis, she wondered whether executing a $13.4 million campaign by 2018 was even feasible. Stewart pondered the steps that needed to be taken in order to position the company so it was ready to pursue a capital campaign, the first multi-million dollar campaign that the organization had ever undergone, and considered the purpose, size, and timing of a potential campaign. She also wondered whether it was best to continue to raise money on a project-by-project basis, or whether other options existed to raise contributed income levels. She contemplated the amount of money needed to accomplish all of her goals, factors that would affect the amount of money that could actually be raised, and how long it would take Portland Stage Company to reach each of the fundraising goals.

Publication Date: 2014-05-15

Suggested Citation: Mathilde Hennighausen, "Portland Stage Company (2013)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #13-60, May 15, 2014

Keywords: Maine, Budgeting, Capital Campaign, Donor Relations, Financial Management, Strategy

Teaching Notes: Yes (contact yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu)


About the Theater Management Knowledge Base

This case is from the Theater Management Knowledge Base, a body of arts management material created by Yale School of Drama Theater Management students and faculty, overseen by an editorial board of leading practitioners. For more information or for help in selecting cases suitable for your educational or organizational purposes, please email yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu.