A look back at 2022-23

With the closing of TWILIGHT: Los Angeles, 1992 yesterday — and apparently some time on my hands as we take the next two days off of rehearsal in light of the hurricane — I wanted to report some news and offer some thoughts on our 2022-23 season.

We’ve never, not in 24 years, even come close to the level of success we’ve experienced this season. And, as I’ll express later, it wasn’t exactly all roses. Still, we managed record after record on a full slate of excellent productions. We had more people through our doors than ever before, and grossed well over 2x at the box office than our previous best year.

22-23 by the Numbers:

  • $452,281.86 earned at the box office — our first season budget to top $600,000 in total revenue
  • 15,148 ticketed admissions with thousands more directly impacted in the schools through outreach and our virtual options
  • 71 different regional artists employed
  • 5 new entries into our Top 10 best-seller list (Hamlet #1, Dracula #2, Misery #4, Lizzie #5, and Jobsite’s ALICE #8)

At a time when so many theaters are closing, cutting back, or putting things on hold, we move into our 25th season with growth!

  • We’ve raised artist salaries by 25-50%. The average actor salary is now $425 a week, or $21.25 an hour. We’re still not at the $25 an hour wage we want, but this is a huge step!
  • We have two new part-time Producing and Engagement Associates (Jena Rashid and Nicole Jeannine Smith) to help me take care of day-to-day needs (you know, all that pesky *other* stuff that’s not making art). Our staff is now four and if all goes to plan we’ll hire another full-time administrator next season.
  • We’ve increased weekday Field Trip offerings to regional schools from one production to two! Schools can attend Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead and/or Twelfth Night as part of a weekday class trip!

Get in on Season 25 at our best price!

(L-R) Katherine Yacko and Nicole Jeannine Smith in Jobsite's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. (Photo: Stage Photography of Tampa (SPOT))There’s so much to be excited about in the 2023-24 25th Anniversary Season. We’re crossing all the things our good fortune will continue. You can help ensure that by doing the most meaningful thing you can for Your Friendly Neighborhood Theater Company: pick up a season pass. Our passes not only save you up to 70% off the price of single tickets, you get unlimited free exchanges and can pick up extra seats for friends at a discount. This offer is not valid after the first show of the season (unlike previous seasons), so don’t wait!

There’s always room to grow

I mentioned disappointment amid all this success, and to be honest in some ways I feel guilty — particularly considering what I know others have endured. We fully recognize how fortunate we are, but we’ll also never stop reaching.

  • We’re still struggling to fill board and committee seats, and personally I’d like to see more corners of our community represented at that table. You can help us fix that in the coming year.
  • We lost over half our run of Picasso at the Lapin Agile because of COVID then a hurricane (oh, hey, look, another one). It stings to have lost those opportunities to reach more folks.
  • We ended the season with a show I feel couldn’t have been stronger, and it was met it with relative indifference. Despite contacting passholders with offers to help reschedule (or donate), about half chose to not show. The public also didn’t turn up in the way we’d hoped. TWILIGHT was exceptional and deserved more, Andresia deserved more.

The Tampa Bay area has shown time and again the kinds of shows they’re here for and those they aren’t. It’s why we chose this past season (and the coming one) as we did to mostly aim for “fun and familiar.”

We haven’t “sold out” — we’re still doing work that excites us and is in line with our aesthetic even if it’s not representative of all the work that excites us. Gone are the days of our audiences meaningfully supporting political work, “challenging” work, or even points of view outside a limited, narrow scope. 

There’s only so much we can do as artists shift public taste. I know that. I can’t change anyone’s mind, nor do I even believe that’s the role of theater. But, we’re missing out on telling a whole lot of stories because of this apathy. This leaves us with one, possibly two, shows a year to take a chance — and many argue that simply isn’t good enough.

I know some folks believe we’re not trying hard enough, or that we should “do what’s right” anyway, even if it isn’t financially viable. The latter would be wholly irresponsible — to the artists we employ and community we serve — but if you’re interested in being part of the conversation, I welcome that.

Not every show (or every theater) can be everything to everyone, I just wish Jobsite could be more things to more people, but for that our audiences have to be more curious. The only way we can offer more points of view is if folks show up and support the work when it happens.

Thanks for 25 Years!

Allow me to end on a positive note, because I’ll again reiterate I almost feel bad grousing considering our year.

Tampa Bay area audiences made this season happen because they DID show up in record numbers to 6 of our 7 shows.

I’m still that blue-collar (mostly reformed) goth/punk kid who wanted to make a theater for regular people who moved here in 1998, even if the stakes have gotten way, way higher. The odds have never been in our favor and yet somehow — through so much — we’ve not only endured but flourished. I still count myself lucky every day that I get to do this for a living and am surrounded by such an incredible artistic family and network of support — including you.

Got a favorite memory or part of the 2022-23 season? Drop it in a comment!

If you’re reading this by Aug. 31, you still also have time to vote for us as Best Professional Theater Company, and for our shows and artists, in this year’s Creative Loafing Best of the Bay Awards. Make us Best of the Bay in 2023!

I hope to see you soon at the theater,

-dj

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