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Act 1: Erase Deficit

Editorial By Courant

December 23, 2007

You have to admire Steve Campo's candor.

The executive and artistic director of TheaterWorks, the intimate playhouse on Pearl Street now playing the Pulitzer prize-winning "Doubt," says his organization is running a deficit for the first time in its 22-year history.It needs to make up $100,000 and Mr. Campo wants that red ink gone this season. He says a deficit inhibits decision-making and colors production choices.

Some of the shortfall came from lower-than-expected ticket sales, but some was unforseeable. Associate artistic director Rob Ruggiero battled cancer. Happily, he is now back working and in good health. But temporary loss of that "energy source," said Mr. Campo, diverted his own attention from fundraising to administrative chores.

Not surprising for a man of his talent, he's facing the challenge in a creative way. For starters, he'll take a 22 percent cut in his annual $65,000 salary to help make up the gap. "The cleverness of this makes the sacrifice seem almost entirely worthwhile," Mr. Campo joked in a fundraising letter.

He's also cut operating expenses by doing "funky, fun things," such as replacing bottled water in the offices with tap water and eliminating "reserved" stickers.

Mr. Campo is asking those who have never contributed to TheaterWorks to give $22 this year in honor of its anniversary. That is surely a bargain if it helps keep one of the cultural gems of the region taking creative risks.

Past contributors are asked to up their donation by $22, $220 or 22 percent. A gift of $2,200 or $22,000 would be welcome, too.

It's not unusual for a small theater company to run a deficit. But it is for Mr. Campo. Against all odds, he has managed to adhere to a pay-as-you-go regimen with smart business decisions and has run only minor deficits. He has nearly as many full-season subscribers as Hartford Stage, and more than Long Wharf, a testament to the caliber of productions.

There are at least 22 reasons to help TheaterWorks out of a jam.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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