Funding the Greatest Show on Earth

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“Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the [American] public.”

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This month we are talking the finances for the Greatest Show on Earth. This project is not about one company making millions it’s about creating opportunities for those who may not otherwise get a chance, as well as raising vital funds for Arts Industry Charities to help them continue their work in supporting the industry. It’s all about about touching souls and changing lives, but most importantly to inspire hearts and minds.

In the UK alone over £10billion is donated to charities across the country a year, but only 2% of money raised goes into the Arts and yet the industry puts over £6billion into the UK economy as a predominant not for profit organisation.

Each of the projects as laid down in last month’s email (click here to view) are meant to be just one off performances per year. However, if the demand is great enough and you know you can fill the theatre for 2 nights, 3 nights or even four and maybe not every night you have the same acts, there is nothing restricting you from making a long weekend out of Lighting the Beacon. As long as you use the weekend allocated to you by AT2R, as we discourage having Lighting the Beacon events in more than one location at the same time.

The same goes for Community Spirit, the plan is that it would be a single event per year. But because we don’t allocate dates for this project and as long as it happens before your Lighting the Beacon then just go for it. Maybe its was felt it could be integrated into a local arts festival or maybe you can see opportunities more than once in year, go for it! Get it out there it is so important that as many people are given the opportunity to perform and be part of this project.

The point being that the more money you put into the Greatest Show on Earth project, the more money you as organisations, individuals and venues will get out of it.

The only rule when it comes to money is that everything has to go through the Greatest Show on Earth’s central account. This is because of the way this project runs we need to have a paper trail of every penny in and out. So where venues usually sort out percentage of ticket sales this would be done by AT2R and we would then you’d be credited accordingly.

However this said, if you wanted your own account at Community Spirit level or even Lighting the Beacon that would be fine but money still needs to come into central first then you would credited accordingly. But please be aware that there will be strict terms and conditions for all accounts that are separate from the central account which will include the account being subject to an unlimited number of unannounced audits through the year.

So where will the money be coming in from? Well mainly from ticket and merchandise sales, but we all know that the arts can’t survive on just these, so we are looking for investors, sponsors, grants and partners to work with us and of course some good old fund raising.

Here’s the important thing when it comes to investors, partner, sponsors and grants if these are found at local level and they only wish to support the local event being that just Community Spirit and/or Lighting the Beacon then that is absolutely fine! National and international sponsors and investors are expected to support the project in it’s entirety, though they can focus in one area if they wish.

Finally at every level right up to the Greatest Show on Earth there is an opportunity for people to donate money either during or at the end of the event that will be in support of three charities The Theatre Trust, Playing Sane and for Lighting the Beacon and Community Spirit there will be a nominated local charity/organisation at each event that money will be donated too.

You may remember read above ‘the more money you put into the project, the more money you get out’ well that’s because all who partake in these projects will receive a share in the overall profits. So looking into each of these projects, before any profit is dealt with the budget for the production must be covered in full; this may seem obvious I know, but let’s look at what is included in the budget for each production:

Production Materials:

  • Stationary (pen and paper)
  • Meals for team on get in and get out days
  • Scenery (paint)
  • Technicians (tapes)
  • Wardrobe consumables (cotton)
  • Special effects (pyrotechnics)

(This list is not exhaustible but every item has to be within good reason)

Things that are excluded:

  • Theatre bar takings
  • Any theatre specific merchandise
  • Venue hire charge
  • Venue staff wages

And all expenses are paid out with valid receipts only, a very small budget because this about the people not the material things. So you might have an old set in your scenery dock that might be appropriate for Lighting the Beacon, alternatively you may choose not to dress the stage.

At the beginning suppliers of hired in equipment may have to go into the budget to meet the invoice cost, but the aim will be to have them taking a slice of the profits which would cover their invoice, hopefully plus extra.

Community Spirit will charge a nominal amount to each performer to cover costs, sell merchandise, maybe refreshments and the sale of tickets to Lighting the Beacon can all be done at this event. All profit from this event will be put back for the next Community Spirit event.

After all these expenses have been paid for Lighting the Beacon the profits would be split down as follows:

13% direct to the venue

54% will be shared between cast, crew, creative team (Excludes current paid theatre staff)

12% will be shared between suppliers

  5% will be shared between investors

  3% to go towards the budgets for the Greatest Show on Earth (for the first 5 years, thereafter this is divided between the venue and investors)

  3% towards budget for the next Lighting the Beacon

10% A Ticket 2 Ride (As the company that has sole interest in the project)

(N.B. These figures are a guide only)

And finally a share of 11% from every Greatest Show on Earth and Greatest Show in the Country is put into the local projects, both Community Spirit and Lighting the Beacon.

This project is not all about profit, it about opportunity for those who may not otherwise get them. It’s about getting as many people involved as possible in the industry, it’s about bringing the industry together to become self-sustaining.

Here’s to the Greatest Show in the Country, to The Greatest Show on Earth!


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