AustinLiveTheatre became a "sponsored project" of the Austin Creative Alliance last year, a status it shares with many another small theatre concern here. One advantage is exemption from sales taxes, derivative from the umbrella organization's status as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. The Creative Alliance can also serve as monitor and guarantor of grants made by the City, collecting a 10% fee for its own overhead for that service.
For any theatre group without the half-million dollar turnover and permanent staff required by the City to qualify for direct grants, the $120 membership fee to the Alliance for sponsored projects is a pretty good deal. You reach your break-even in this world of 8.25% sales tax by the time that you spend just over $1400 to purchase otherwise taxable materials for your project.
Your contract with the Alliance requires an annual report of your activities as a sponsored project. I've just submitted ALT's report, which you can read here at your leisure. Meanwhile, following good business practice, ALT presents this executive summary:
ALT provides to locally-produced narrative theatre events a number of free services:
- full-page "upcoming" announcements with images, posted both on interior pages at ALTcom and on the front page of the blog (www.austinlivetheatre.blogspot.com)
- front-page icons linked to upcoming performances of theatre for youth or by youth
- display of a poster icon on the ALTcom "front page" for two weeks before opening and throughout the run
- listing on the comprehensive Austin Theatre Calendar covering the upcoming two months of performances
- publication of photo features
- posting of clickable audio and video features either in "upcoming" announcements or as separate feature articles
- ALT reviews of local theatre productions and notification of their publication directly to the producing company and to the 225 followers on Twitter of @ALTcom
- links to theatre reviews published elsewhere, posted immediately at the foot of the ALT review and at the top of the "upcoming" announcement
- facsimile publication of event programs, scanned as .pdf files and held on the ALTcom server
- arts news coverage, both original and excerpted, with appropriate links to full coverage
- announcement sof auditions and educational opportunities
- The Guide to Austin Stages, a work in progress available via a "front-page" link (because of the press of ALT administrative work, the most recent update was in September, 2010)
- coverage of Austin productions of Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related theatre for www.playShakespeare.com
Readership fluctuates from day to day and in the course of the week, with 250-400 hits daily at ALTcom and 150-200 at the blog. Monthly total hits are approximately 13,000.
Expenditures for 2010 were about $6225, including $990 in donations to nine non-profit theatre groups and to two schools. ALTcom had zero income in 2010 but received in-kind donations of 27 complimentary theatre tickets.
ALT published 870 articles in 2010.
These included 578 "upcoming" features in 2010 for the greater Austin area, announcing narrative theatre productions within a periphery established by the cities of Killeen, Salado, Georgetown, Smithville, San Marcos, New Braunfels, Wimberley, Lakeway, Cottonwood Shores near Marble Falls, and Leander. ALT provided "upcoming" features for five theatres of interest in San Antonio.
ALT wrote 115 reviews of theatre productions.
Other categories of articles: arts reporting, 87 (including 9 on the controversy concerning criteria for City of Austin grants funded by the hotel and occupancy tax); auditions and opportunities, 34; classes and education,. 22; opinion pieces from elsewhere, 17; reviews from elsewhere, 10; postings at www.playShakespeare.com, 8; books of interest to theatre artists and scholoars, 3; video features not in "upcoming" articles, 3; and the Guide to Austin Theatre (a work in progress).
Approaching its third anniversary of operation, ALT acknowledges that it has reached the performance limits of its structure as a non-commercial single-proprietor service to Austin arts. I am looking for ways to reduce workload or to find additional resources.