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Trinity Repertory Company (2007)

Trinity Repertory Company (2007)

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In August of 2007, the new leadership of Trinity Repertory Company (Trinity) was running an organization that was full of contradictions. Recently appointed artistic director Curt Columbus had just completed his first full season and had been joined mid year by new executive director, Michael Gennaro. The FY07 season was an artistic success; it had played to enthusiastic audience and critical acclaim. Performances were sold at an average 93% capacity, ticket sales had earned more than $400,000 over goals, and subscriptions had increased 18% from three years prior. To top it off, staff morale was higher than it had been in years. Concurrently, however, the contributed revenue was short its goal by over $250,000, they had upwards of $3 million in debt, the $3 million line of credit would soon be fully tapped, the endowment was far below what they felt was the appropriate level, and the theatre was years behind in fire code updates and accessibility requirements.

With support from Gennaro, Columbus was reinforcing Trinity’s core values of “company, community and education.” In a show of support, the board approved the new FY08 season budget that offered fuller employment to members of the acting company and budgeted for the large scale of shows that Trinity was known for; the first show of the season featured a cast of 18. This new budget projected a $1.1 million cash deficit (see Exhibit 2), and was accompanied by a cash flow projection that predicted that the line of credit would be used up in early 2008.

Board chair Jack McConnell, Gennaro, and Columbus felt that a capital campaign would be necessary to acquire the means to pay for the required capital improvements. They also hoped to close the operating gap by boosting the annual fund, and building up the endowment. It was clear to Gennaro that eliminating the debt and preventing its return were essential:

The crucial issue here – from the day I walked in here – I said we’ve got to get rid of this debt. We’ve got to eliminate the debt. It’s going to kill us. Everything else you can work with, but the debt is like a ball and chain we’re dragging around.

Looking ahead to the FY08 season, many questions remained: Would they run out of cash before February with no windfall to help them through? If they launched the campaign, could they raise funds quickly enough to close the operating budget gap this year and in the future? Would the community actually step up in support of the campaign? Would their plan to cover the now and future operations gap work out or would they have to cut expenses? Finally, if it all turned out all right, was Trinity still the kind of place where financial problems would just happen again?

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Publication Date: 2010-05-15

Suggested Citation: Meghan Pressman, "Trinity Repertory Company (2007)," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case #07-06, May 15, 2010

Keywords: Rhode Island, Capital Campaign, Financial Management, Fundraising, Leadership Transition, Organizational Culture

Teaching Notes: No

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.