KTS budget under the spotlight

The days of epic KTS productions like Hair or Noises Off are over. At least for the time being, the KTS will be focusing on smaller productions.

The days of epic KTS productions like Hair or Noises Off are over.
At least for the time being, the KTS will be focusing on smaller productions. Amid talk of dramatic fire code changes, financial uncertainty and cuts all around, we sat down with KTS Treasurer Haritha Popuri to find out what’s going on with the KTS as they enter their Autumn season.
Popuri says four big expenses over the past two years forced the current exec to take a hard look at where money was being spent. In the winter of 2011, the KTS spent 34% of their annual budget on their 80th anniversary. That’s as much as they spent on expenses for all of their productions that season. In total, more than $8,000 was spent for that celebration.
“Quite a bit of money was spent for the 80th anniversary,” says Popuri. “But everyone had a lot of fun, it was a huge success.”
A year ago, new flooring had to be purchased for the Red Room. New light dimmers were also purchased.
“The flooring was quite expensive and other than that, we purchased the dimmers for the lights. The costs for the flooring was misquoted, so it ended up being more expensive than we tallied it to be, a couple thousand more than we expected.”
Finally, Popuri says this year’s production of Noises Off  was an extra expense that was “quite expensive to pull off”, when compared to other KTS productions.
“Looking at the numbers, it might not have been the best idea to do it, but it was a fantastic play. With the kind of budget we work with, it might not have been the best idea. But it was also my favourite show that I’ve seen in the KTS in my past two years.”
There’s also been a dramatic drop in box office revenue over the past two years because of fire code regulations limiting the number of people allowed in the Pit. For the 2010-2011 season, box office brought in over $17,000. Last year, that number plummeted to $12,623. For this year, the KTS is projecting $10,500 in box office profit.
Popuri is hopeful the numbers will be able to rise in the Pit this year.
“There’s a possibility of getting a permit that would extend the capacity of the Pit,” says Popuri. It would be the same sort of thing that we see in the Chapel during Holy Week. If we can work something like that, we can see the same sort of numbers in the Pit that I had in my first year.”
If they go over the number of people allowed in the Pit this year, there’s more of a risk of being shut down than ever before. The KTS could face very hefty fines for going over that limit.
This year, Popuri says the KTS is hoping for smaller productions in order to fit a large audience in the Pit to turn a profit.
“If you have a big cast, and very little money directed towards production, and you don’t pay for rights, you can have a 30 person cast, because it won’t take much to turn a profit. But we’re hoping the numbers look more like 15-18 person cast and crew limits. It’s not beyond what’s possible. For Hair, it was lovely to have that many people in the audience. But you know what? If there are 5 people in the audience, we can pull off a fantastic show for them.”

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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