Five Things to Ask Your General Manager During the Budgeting Process

We took our son to the pediatrician today and, along the wall at the doctor’s office, were a series of posters called “Five Things to Ask your Doctor Before…” One was Five Things to Ask your Doctor Before you Take Antibiotics, another was Five Things to Ask your Doctor Before You Get Any Test, Treatment or Procedure.

These posters are intended to encourage and foster conversation between the expert, the doctor, and the patient.

Inspired by these posters, here’s my first attempt at a Five Things to Ask guide for producers and general managers. If this goes well, there may be more. Today, I’m beginning with Five Things to Ask your General Manager During the Budgeting Process.

In today’s edition, let’s imagine you’ve hired your GM, you’ve had many preliminary conversations about your vision for the show, production requirements and budgetary expectations. Your GM goes off and a week later presents you with a first pass of the budget. Below are five questions to begin an honest and productive exchange of ideas in the budget revision process.

  1. Are my budget expectations in line with market realities for this project?
  2. But we did it cheaper at a regional theater or college, why is this so much higher?
  3. Do you feel comfortable that this is the right amount of money to spend given our vision for how we’d like to produce this show?
  4. What level of talent can we afford to pay with the current version of the budget?
  5. How can we tweak our vision for the project to bring the budget down further?
  6. Are there one or two line items where we should consider spending more money than we initially intended but that may materially improve the outcome of my production?
  7. Do I really need xxxxxxx?

Okay, I lied about just five questions. As I think of more I’ll add them to this page. Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter and I may just add your question to this list.

Daniel Kuney is a the the Founder and President of KGM Theatrical, a Broadway general management firm based in NYC. He enjoys writing about theatrical producing and how to prioritize calm focused work in a fast-paced business.