So, where does the money come from? Download our Revenue Infographic (preview below):


There are three main revenue streams:

  1. Earned Revenue (box office, presenting fees)
  2. Private Sector Revenue (donations, fundraiser, corporate - information below)
  3. Government Revenue (federal, provincial, municipal)


Earned Revenue

This is the revenue you’ll receive as a result of putting on your work. It can include any of the following:

Box Office (or Admissions)

This is the money people give you in exchange for attending your show.

To calculate potential box office, you need to know your total audience potential. This is the capacity of your venue multiplied by the number of showings you will have. For example, if you're performing 10 shows in a 100-seat theatre, you have an audience potential of 1,000.

Then set a realistic goal for the percentage of tickets you want to sell. 50-60% is a reasonable guess if you're working in a smaller venue or site-specific location (which generally has a lower audience capacity). This goal should change based on your audience size. If you’re doing a site-specific performance that only seats 20 people a night, you might calculate your audience goal a bit higher. If you are working in a more traditional/larger venue, 30-35% is more common.

A basic Box Office Potential formula would be:
10 performances x 100 seats x $20 ticket x 60% of house = $12,000

You should also budget for the different price points you’ll be using. Will you have discounted tickets for arts worker or student? Will you give a group rate/reduced ticket price for specialized performances (Relaxed Performance, Audio Described Performance, or ASL Performance)? Are ticket prices increasing throughout the run of your show? Will you be issuing any discount codes? If you have Pay-What-You-Can performances, the PWYC average can vary between $7.50-$17. Think about how many of each kind of ticket you expect to sell and adjust your box office potential accordingly.

Presentation Fees

When a third party hires you to put on your show, they pay you a presentation fee. A presenter usually is not involved in the creative process of the production. You negotiate fair compensation with your presenter in exchange for putting on your show, providing the venue, helping with marketing, etc. If they are paying you a flat fee, this amount should be entered into your production budget as revenue.

In a presentation relationship, it is important to be very clear about which party (or parties) will retain the box office. If the presenter retains 100% of the box office, you cannot include the box office potential in your production budget.


This is not necessary or common to all productions, but you might decide to create merchandise to sell to your audience when they attend your show. Keep in mind the costs involved in producing the merchandise (i.e. design, manufacturing, shipping) and make sure you account for those amounts in your expenses.

Private Sector Revenue

Private sector revenue includes any sums of money you receive that are not earned through putting on the production or contributed from public funds. It usually reflects a relationship outside the scope of just a consumer or audience member.

Private sector revenue can include the following (following the links below to learn more or check out the Table of Contents on our Funding page

Corporate sponsorship

Private Funders (foundations)

Individual donations

Fundraising (including Online Fundraising and fundraising events)

In-Kind donations

This may include a donation of rehearsal space, skills (e.g. graphic design, photography), or food supplied for opening night, and should be recorded in your budget.

Program/ad sponsorship

You may wish to sell advertising space in your promotional materials . For example, you could sell ads in your house program or, if you have an extensive email list or social media reach, on your social media platforms. You could start by soliciting local businesses (for example, a bar where people might want to grab a drink after the show) or performing arts companies who have an upcoming production. Make sure to reach out well in advance of your program print deadline as there may be back-and-forth involved to arrange the sponsorship. It's helpful to communicate what the value is for this business: are they buying advertising space to support the arts in their community? To get their services in front of hundreds of people in their target demographic? Depending on your relationship with your venue, you may need to run any ad buys by them to make sure they don't conflict with any of their exclusive sponsors (for example, if their 'Official Beer Sponsor' is Steamwhistle, you may not be able to print an ad for Mill Street Brewery). Don't forget that there may be added costs involved in this offering; for example, you may increase the costs of printing your program if you add pages for advertisement, or decide to print in colour rather than black and white. You will also want to have printing specs (dimensions) for your program to give to ad buyers. 


Public Sector Revenue

Public or Government revenue is funding contributed to your production through government agencies and institutions.

Government revenue can include:

  • Municipal - ex. Toronto Arts Council, City of Toronto
  • Provincial - ex. Ontario Arts Council, Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport, Ontario Trillium Foundation
  • Federal - ex. Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, The Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts

Learn more on our Public Funders page.



Created by awong. Last Modification: Thursday September 14, 2023 07:52:31 EDT by pallison.