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Expenses

How much do things cost? What do you do about the costs you don’t have numbers for? How do you find out what is industry standard?

Here is a good place to start! Try downloading our Expenses Infographic or keep reading to learn more.

APR.com Expenses Inforgraphic 08 2018 (2)

Things you may have on your expenses list:

  • Rehearsal Expenses (tape, scripts, pencils, hospitality, etc.)
  • Running Costs; the items that are used in every show (food onstage, ripped envelopes, newspapers, etc.)
  • Admin Expenses (portion of phone bill, postage, ect.)
  • Publicity (paying a publicist)
  • Marketing (ads, Facebook ads, posters, postcards, distribution costs)
  • Contracting Personnel; the people you hire and pay for your production
  • Production rentals (sound, lighting, projection equipment)


It is important to cost these things out and include a number into your expense sheet within your budget. A great way to come up with those numbers is to do your research, if you don't know what things cost. If you have never paid for a publicist before, call a few publicists, or companies that do publicity and get free quotes. That way, you have an idea what the cost is and then can better assess if it is something that you can include in your project or if you cannot afford it at this time.

How to Reduce your Expenses

Sometimes, the reality of not receiving the money you need for your Dream Budget sets in and you need to start thinking about how to reduce your expenses. Once you’ve built the budget, begin to think about the ways you can have fewer lines on the expense list. What material items can you purchase for a smaller rate? Are there items that you can get donated? Do you need a large team or can you work with a smaller one? Can you assemble some volunteers for the set painting? The key is to make the most of less, so definitely settle on the top things that your show cannot do without and work from there.

In-Kind Contributions

What are possible in-kind donations you can receive or ask for, like printing or using rehearsal space at an office after hours? Larger arts organizations will often help if asked so don’t be afraid to ask. It’s in most of their mandates to help artists in the community.

Get in the habit of keeping track of the value of all in-kind contributions and make sure they are reflected on the revenues side of your budget as well. This way at the end of your project you'll have a clearer picture of all the resources actually required to make it happen.

Expense Reports

An expense report is used to keep track of all the expenses an organization or company incurs throughout their project, or fiscal year. The producer is responsible for providing an expense report to each person in their team who is spending money for the production (doing the shopping).

There are two ways producers typically distribute funds to those who are spending money on the production:

  1. Petty Cash - the producer provides the spender with money and the person signs for it that they’ve received that amount. The person who receives the money is responsible for bringing back changes and receipts to the producer.
  2. Upfront Payments - this means that the producer gives the spender a set budget and they are then responsible to spend their own money, up to that budget limit. They keep all of their receipts and track them in order to be reimbursed after they spend.

NOTE: it is very important to keep receipts for everything that you spend for your production in order to track accurate cash flow and expenses.

It is also important to understand that you should not give out more cash than you can afford and never exceed what is in the production budget or cash flow. Ensure that you are upfront about the budget. Ask your designers what they think their spending budget is and then see if it matches your budget and makes sense with your show. You can even include the budget into someone’s contract, along with the expectations that they won’t go over and spend more than that.