About General Managers
In the Off-Broadway theatre, the Producer or Producers must decide on what play will be produced and make a plan to find the money to produce it.
Then, they must engage an attorney to negotiate and memorialize an agreement with the author or authors and to prepare the filings, disclosures, and agreements with potential investors required by the State and Federal governments for anyone who intends to raise money for a theatrical production.
The next step is to find a General Manager. (View a listing of Off-Broadway General Managers.)
The General Manager of a theatrical production is to a producer as a Prime Minister is to a Monarch, a Chief of Staff to a Chief Executive, or a First Officer to the Captain of the ship.
In other words, the General Manager will advise the Producer on what needs to be done and execute the Producer’s decisions. If the Producer is new to the world of Off-Broadway, the General Manager’s experience and knowledge of that world will be an invaluable resource – and there are many seasoned Producers who, in their first and second and third times in the game, relied on their experienced General Managers and learned from them on their way to becoming knowledgeable, experienced and established Producers.
If the Producer is already experienced and at-home in the world of Off-Broadway, he or she will rely on the General Manager to perform the day-to-day functions required to operate the production, to keep it running, and to provide the Producer with daily updates, freeing the Producer to concentrate on planning strategies for extending the run, preparing a tour or regional production, and getting started on new projects.
In either case, it is important for the Producer or Producers to engage a General Manager whom they feel comfortable with, and can work with, trust, and rely upon – one who is enthusiastic about the project and shares the Producer’s understanding of the production and its goals.
The General Manager will, under the Producer’s direction, undertake the following tasks:
- Prepare a detailed Production Budget, Weekly Operating Budget, and Recoupment Schedule for planning purposes and for inclusion in the Offering Papers required by law to be presented to potential investors.
- Prepare for the Producer a list of recommended personnel, including, but not limited to, the following, and negotiate the terms of agreements for their services: Director and Choreographer, Set, Lighting, Costume, and Sound Designers, Musical Director, Casting Director, Technical Director and Prop Manager.
- Recommend a plan regarding engaging union and/or non-union personnel, and prepare, if union contracts are involved, agreements with the various theatrical unions whose members will be working on the production, including, if required, SSDC, AEA, USA, and ATPAM agreements.
- Prepare, for the Producer, a list of recommended publicity, advertising, and marketing firms and negotiate terms for their agreements.
- Prepare, for the Producer, a list of possible theatres to house the production, arrange for tours of the theatres with Producer and the Creative Team, and negotiate a license agreement with the theatre.
- Supervise the setting up of the theatre Box Office and remote, or electronic Box Office, including setting pricing and scaling of the House and codes for discounted and group sales.
- Monitor the sales at the Box Office and prepare weekly reports for the Producer.
- Prepare, with the accountant, a weekly Profit & Loss Statement, including an itemized accounting of all production expenses, and provide regular reports and payments to the investors during the run of the show, required tax filings and payments, and financial reports required by any unions and government agencies.
- Set up the Production Bank Account and issue checks to the Production’s vendors, consultants, and employees. Monitor and report all income and expenditures and insure that the Production operates within its Production and Weekly budgets.
- Maintain an office for the Production, and make it available for regular meetings and inspection of the company’s books and records.
- Meet regularly with and advise the Producer on operations and strategy and arrange for, attend, and provide counsel for weekly marketing and/or staff meetings.
- Prepare and supervise the load-out and financial wrapping up upon the closing of the production.
Questions for a General Manager
- What do you think of the project?
- Who do you think would be right for it as creative personnel?
- Who do you think would be right for it for publicity, advertising and marketing?
- Which of the people and firms you recommend have you worked with before – and why do you recommend them for this project?
- Where do you think it ought to be presented? Why?
- Is the proposed production budget sufficient? The operating budget?
- Is there a realistic chance of recoupment here? What is its target market and what would have to happen for the show to succeed?
- What sort of lead time do you think we need? When would be a good time to open?
- What projects have you worked on that you think have lessons for this one?
- What other projects are you working on now? Will you have enough time to commit to this one?