It’s not exactly earth shattering to say that budget projections are a squishy dark art (at best). But some of what I hear from colleagues on the earned income side of budget projections has been fascinating when it comes to the 22/23 season.
While some are still embracing what I would consider a prudent approach of not having anywhere near enough data to accurately predict sales, I hear from others about pressure from the executive leadership level to include projections that go far beyond reasonable expectations.
While data on ticket buyer habits coming out of the pandemic is still thin, one thing seems clear: we aren’t even close to pre-pandemic levels of earned income predictability. agendas notwithstanding, that’s why downward pressure seems so odd.
I’ve been chatting with colleagues that attended the League conference and based on those voices, it doesn’t seem like this topic garnered much airtime outside of a few instances that occurred during closed constituent meetings. Even then, those discussions apparently focused more on “let’s get real” conversations rather than acknowledge the potential harm that comes from unrealistic projections.
If I had to give advice on this topic to large donors, funders, musicians, and patron groups it would focus on making sure there’s transparency about those projections and what sorts of contingency plans are in place if actual revenue falls short (spoiler: panic driven cuts are not a plan).