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 Post subject: starting a company
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:38 pm 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place in this forum to ask this, but how much approximately does it cost to start up a dance company? are we talking thousands? hundreds of thousands? maybe even millions? does anyone have any idea?
just curious (and thinking to the possible future).


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 12:47 pm 
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Hi Alex, that's a very broad question. It all depends on the goals and the vision. It can cost zero dollars or it can cost millions. However, before I continue, I'm moving this to the Managing Dance forum. Follow me there.


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 1:11 pm 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Well, without putting dollar values to them (yet), let's look at some of the assets you'll need:

Suitable (in terms of size, floor, and location) studio space

dancers

a theater

a lighting designer

a stage manager (can be combined, sometimes, with the lighting designer)

set and costume designers

stagehands

publicity

office supplies

materials for sets and costumes

expendable materials such as gel, tape, etc.

Some of the people above might be volunteers, although I would not recommend depending -- as a recent client of mine did -- exclusively on volunteer stagehands.

<small>[ 13 July 2004, 03:12 PM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 3:24 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Some thoughts:

Rent a local studio for rehearsal space by the hour then you don't need a studio.

Many small theaters will give you a stage manager and lighting person if you rent their space for performances. The Electric Lodge in Los Angeles is one example.

You may want consider producing dance events instead of starting a company. You don't need a studio or theater, just the money to pay for them when needed. You can work with the same dancers each time you produce an event.


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 4:42 pm 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
Rent a local studio for rehearsal space by the hour then you don't need a studio.
I was assuming this. It's still an expense.

Quote:
Many small theaters will give you a stage manager and lighting person if you rent their space for performances.
I'm not sure what a "lighting person" is. If it's a stage electrician, it's true that this is often included in the rental price, but, even so, it's still an expense, whether it's broken out separately or added to the rental price. In either case, using an electrician to design your lighting is like hiring a carpenter to design your house*.

If you mean a lighting designer, this is an idea you might want to rethink. You don't expect or allow the theater to provide other artistic personnel such as costume designer, choreographer, or dancers, so why expect (or allow) them to provide someone as crucial as the lighting designer or the stage manager? There's a reason these people are traditionally furnished by the company rather than by the house.

* No slur meant against electricians, most of whom are very talented, but they tend to regard "lighting design" as what they see the LD do in the theater, without realizing that before ever walking into the theater, the designer has done many hours of work.

<small>[ 14 July 2004, 09:46 AM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 12:05 pm 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
so am i right in saying that the company has to hire the theatre for a performance, the theatre doesn't hire the company? in that case, would i be right in assuming that the only reason why we only see well known/large scale companies in major theatres is because they are the only ones who can afford to rent the space?
is it possible to get grants from places like the Arts Council?
i realise my initial question was vague, i was thinking of a middle-scale modern/contemporary dance company of 10-20 dancers. what is an "average" dancer's wage? or is that too vague a question also as i imagine they vary. if that is too hard to answer, then what is the very least and most a professional dancer should expect to earn?

<small>[ 14 July 2004, 02:54 PM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 12:54 pm 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
so am i right in saying that the company has to hire the theatre for a performance, the theatre doesn't hire the company?
In the case of most (almost all) small companies, yes. This is called self-presenting. Big companies are more likely to be hired by a presenter such as Society for the Performing Arts in Houston or TITAS in Dallas. These presenters then rent the theatre. Many theatres, such as the Kennedy Center, are also presenters. Some big companies self-present, even on tour; most limit their self-presentation to their home cities.

Quote:
would i be right in assuming that the only reason why we only see well known/large scale companies in major theatres is because they are the only ones who can afford to rent the space?
Partially. In most cases, they're probably being presented by a local organization, but the basic economics remain the same: if you're going to present a show that will cost umpteen thousand dollars, you'd better have a good chance of bringing in umpteen thousand dollars in income.

Quote:
is it possible to get grants from places like the Arts Council?
Yes. Most communities have arts councils, as do most states. On the national scale, of course, there's the NEA. There are also foundations and corporate donations.

<small>[ 15 July 2004, 09:57 AM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:16 pm 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
By dance event I meant something akin to the Spectrum series in Los Angeles. It's produced by a local woman who also runs her own company. Rather than have her company perform alone and bear all expenses, she allows other local choreographers to work with her dancers or bring in their own for the performances. This allows not just hers but other companies to perform without incurring costs of overhead (theater rental, techs, etc.). She covers these costs through ticket sales, grants, advertising and donations. It's also a great way to showcase local talent. She's done this for some time and it works quite well.


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 10:29 am 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
Being British i've never heard of the Spectrum series but it sounds like a good idea. i iknow i keep asking how much things cost but roughly how expensive is it to rent out a medium sized theatre for a performance? again are we talking hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of pounds? i'm just looking to get a rough idea.


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:21 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
When I managed a 1500-seat theatre in Houston, our rent was (I think) $1000/night, and we were by far the cheapest price per seat of any venue in town. This was, of course, in addition to such costs as stagehands, house manager, and ushers.

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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:43 am 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
and would you rent out your theatre to anyone who could afford it or did they have to be a certain standard or at the very least have a 'professional' show to put on?


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 4:03 pm 
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Location: Vancouver BC
As an emerging choreographer and self-presenter, I know how confusing it can be to get going with your own company. In my experience, different theatres have different mandates about their requirements for using their space. Usually you have to send in a description of your work and/or artistic statement, who you are working with, etc...this will then go to a committee who decides whether or not your production meets thair standards. Where I live in Vancouver, the theatres are quite small on average, approximately 250-300 seats, and they cost about $500/night plus technical fees etc. A show that I produced recently cost about $1800 total (including advertising and technical costs), and we had a lot of volunteer help. If you can't get people to work for free, then they will often accept an honorarium (flat fee) instead of an hourly wage. If you get personnel through the theatre, then it will cost you a lot more because they will have to be paid by the hour. To pay for the production, we got a $1000 grant from our university's student society, but you could also apply to government organizations for funding. Fundraising is also a good way to cover costs - we made about $400 from 2 bake sales and a raffle, all held in the lobby of school dance shows at intermission. Also, you will make some money with ticket sales as well. Remember to overbudget, not underbudget - it is safer in the long run. Another thing to remember is to approach theatres whose space you would like to use well in advance. Most theatres have websites that will advise you on when to contact them with your proposal and how long the process usually takes for approval. GOOD LUCK!!

PS With this information, keep in mind that we were not paying any of our dancers or choreographers as this project was a BFA graduating project done extracurricularly - all performers were volunteers and collaborators. If you were paying your dancers/musicians for rehearsals and performances, the total costs of putting on a show would be much higher.

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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2004 12:51 pm 
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Location: Birmingham Uni / UWM Milwaukee
thanks Shallom that was a lot of useful info, i guess i should start making some friends in the business! you said you got a grant from your university's student society did they give you any help, or did you have to do everything yourselves, including recruit dancers, crew etc.?


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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2004 1:21 pm 
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Location: Vancouver BC
Hi Alex,

No, the university did not help with anything other than funding. We had to recruit our dancers all by ourselves - luckily there were a lot of dance students that were interested in performing and/or choreographing. I am sure that you won't have too much trouble finding dancers, we seem to be always in need of a job! I guess it depends on how much you are willing to pay them. :D It is always a plus to have friends in the business!

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 Post subject: Re: starting a company
PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2004 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Basically, all they had to do was prove they could sign a contract and write a (hopefully, good) check.

<small>[ 17 July 2004, 08:10 AM: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>

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