A crucial part of any producer's job is managing the overall production budget. Indie producers need to take in many considerations beyond venue, artists fees, and tech. Insurance, playwright's royalties, accessibility costs, set transport, and publicity are just a few considerations that are often overlooked.
What is a budget?
A production budget is a spending plan that is based on money coming in revenue and money going out expenses. Your budget should be one of the first things you create when making your producing plan to ensure you have enough money for all the things your project needs. Your budget, along with a cash flow, will help you schedule when you can spend money and when you can expect to make money.
Very simply, budgets consists of two parts: expenses: the money that you plan on spending, and revenue: the money you plan on making. Examples of expenses are venue, artist fees, tech, insurance, royalties, set transportation, and accessibility and publicity costs. Examples of revenue are grants, sponsorships, donations, ticket sales, and fundraising.
What to use to build a Budget
Using a spreadsheet software will help you organize your numbers and give you the ability to quickly review information. Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel are good tools to help you build your budget. Not an expert on Excel? There are free courses held at the Toronto Public Library, use your library card to access Lynda.com or head to YouTube. Also, check out the templates on this site to get started.
Where to start
People often say that budgets tell a story. This means that your budget should reflect your project’s priorities. Are you focusing on a long rehearsal process, is it about the sound design, or a short but intense physical creation piece with many actors? Have you considered the access needs of your audience? After evaluating your priorities, you will have a better idea of where you’ll want to spend money and where you’ll want to save it.
Many people start building their budget by estimating their Expenses. It can be difficult to know how much a production will cost before you’ve actually begun the creative work, but you can start by making a list of everything you think you may need to spend money on and doing some research to get accurate prices for those things. Once you have an idea of the money you will need to spend, you will have a better idea of the money you will need to make through things like ticket sales, bar sales, grants, and fundraisers to cover those costs.
FinancialLit has detailed descriptions that can be useful when building a budget for your project.
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