Since June 25, I’ve been singly-employed. Perhaps that’s best expressed as underemployed. Semi-employed?
Jobsite has always been a lot of work to keep moving in the right direction while juggling two jobs, but it’s always been manageable. Good thing I’m sorta into working late nights and weekends, because that’s how I’ve had to roll.
Now that Jobsite is my only job (according to Facebook anyway), I’ve been spending my time working on grants as well as trying to find other random odd-jobs and contract-based work I can do to keep up with my mortgage and bills.
Jobsite has been earnestly researching and applying for grants going on two years now. The first was through the state, and we never even got so much as a “thanks for trying” email in return.
That was odd. Even to our grant writer.
The second made it all the way to final adjudication. We knew it was down to 5 in our category and we even knew who the panelists were. We were thrilled. Then there were sweeping budget changes and monies already set aside for the arts was recalled to go to other places someone else thought was more critical.
This week alone I’ve applied for three grants. One was already dried up by the time I got the app in, but I couldn’t have guessed that since the website was out of date. After filling everything out I called to ask about a form that was missing, and that’s how I got the news. Apparently they didn’t even know the website was out of date.
The second also had an out of date form online. I’d similarly been working on this grant all week when I had to call in and ask about the form. Similar story – the budget is unclear and the deadline will at least be a month after what they expected it to be and when they know more they’ll send something out.
My introduction to grantwriting has been exceedingly frustrating, to put it mildly.
I interned at the Hippodrome up in Gainesville during those glorious Clinton years when the arts were funded way better AND there was an enormous budget surplus. I know what kind of money they were getting and how many grants were going out the door there on an ongoing basis. Now I sit around and scratch my head as to where all that went, and if we’ll ever see it again.
We’ve barely squeezed by now for 10 years with the money we have. Barely. We do a great job with what we do in the face of a lack of money, don’t get me wrong, but we’re like McGyver – fixing stuff with duct tape, WD-40 and a paper clip. I constantly tell my board we have to stretch if we want to grow. That we have to create and show the need in order to get the funding. I’ve been told over and over that if it looks like you’re getting by ok with no money, despite how little people are being compensated, that you won’t get anything. I thought that backwards – surely not having anything but showing responsibility and merit has to be better than way overspending what you have and being up to your eyes in debt?
So we’ve been stretching, reaching, when it comes to finances. We’ve added a small salary, we’ve increased our payout to artists, we’ve budgeted a lot more aggressively to show all this need. It’s been almost two years now and we’ve still yet to see a dime come back. This really just adds to my frustration.
I hate worrying about money. I hate not having it. I hate not being able to pay my artists what they are worth. But it seems to be where we often start and where we always finish.
After a crazy-good start to this season between our first few shows, the past few have not done what they should have done at the box office, despite the sensational coverage and outstanding reviews. Despite pleading. Despite best efforts and good old fashioned hump busting.
I know, I know, the first thing anyone will say is that it’s the economy. I’m not so sure, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.
Whatever is going on we as a company have to find a way around it. The budgets are set and in motion for the remainder of this season – which is luckily just the one show, Pericles. I’ve already budgeted quite a bit more conservatively for next season. I’ve had to, I’m not happy about it. I don’t really have so much faith that the money is going to be there from corporate or government support, despite how hard we try, to make up where the ticket office falls flat.
Which just leads me back to how we’ve made it this far – regular folks like yourself. The people that buy tickets to our shows, who send us an occassional check or PayPal us a little something here and there. You can honestly take credit for keeping a theater company on their feet and kicking it for 10 solid years. It shows the power of what regular people can do. We get enough of those regular people and it possibly even trivializes what we’re not getting from corporate America or the government.
If we never say it enough – cut this out and put it in your pocket: we owe everything to you. Without you, and without these artists who come back to us again and again, there is no Jobsite.
Just imagine what we could do if we could get those other funding sources to step up though. It keeps me up at night. We’re going to keep working them and we hope, if you ever had the chance to go to bat for us, that you’d do the same.
There’s another post brewing in me about Pericles, about how it’s the finale of this 10th anniversary season and how we want this to be a rockin’ tribute to this great run we’ve had so far. We hope everyone, despite how long maybe it’s been since you’ve seen a show or how broke you might be, will come out and join us. If you’re in a real bind we’re offering $5 tickets to our preview at 8pm on Wed., Aug. 5. Use promo code BROKE.