Who is GableStage
Q: Who is GableStage?
A: GableStage is an award winning local theater company that currently mounts a season of six productions annually and celebrates Miami’s theatrical talent by hiring local actors and theater professionals; it will operate and program the new theater. GableStage also has a long-established track record for offering educational and outreach programs and for helping smaller, up and coming theater companies develop their work. The management and operating agreement with GableStage, approved by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, is available here: http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/matter.asp?matter=151074&file=false&yearFolder=Y2015
How GableStage was selected to manage and operate the new theater
Q: How was GableStage selected to manage and operate the theater at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and what makes them qualified?
A: A public process was conducted in 2009 by the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Inc. to identify and select a partner to manage and program the new 300-seat theater proposed for the Playhouse site. As a result of that search, GableStage was chosen to provide professional regional theater, complementary performing arts activities, and theater education programs for the community. The process was outlined to the Board of County Commissioners as part of a recommended course of action for the reconstruction, management and operation of the Playhouse, which the BCC approved in 2011. http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/matter.asp?matter=102656&file=true&yearFolder=Y2010
Subsequent related items approved by the BCC include:
- 10.01.2013 - Lease agreement with the State (GableStage is clearly identified as the operator for the theater in the Business Plan that is a part of the Lease) http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/legistarfiles/MinMatters/Y2013/131977min.pdf
- 03.12.2015 – Public hearing sponsored by Commissioner Xavier Suarez regarding the proposed operating agreement in favor of GableStage for the Coconut Grove Playhouse http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/matter.asp?matter=150397&file=false&yearFolder=Y2015
- 04.21.2015 - Operating and Management Agreement between Miami-Dade County and GableStage Inc. http://www.miamidade.gov/govaction/matter.asp?matter=151074&file=false&yearFolder=Y2015
GableStage’s financial viability
Q: What is GableStage’s financial viability and where can we see their current operating budget?
A: GableStage is a financially responsible non-profit organization that not only continues to mount critically-acclaimed and award-winning seasons of theater but also balances its budget annually with a combination of earned revenues, contributed income, and public and private grants, through which it maintains a positive fund balance. For its most recently completed fiscal year (FY 2016-2017), GableStage balanced its budget with 42% from earned revenue (e.g., ticket sales and subscriptions), 36% from contributions (e.g., private donations and special events) and 22% from public grants (e.g., federal, state, county and municipal government support). As a non-profit organization, GableStage files annual reports as part of the State’s requirements for such organizations. These documents are available online.
GableStage’s IRS filings
Q: What do GableStage’s IRS filings tell us about their finances?
A: GableStage is a fiscally-sound and debt-free nonprofit organization. GableStage’s annual IRS 990 filings demonstrate that GableStage has a longtime, solid track record of consistently ending its fiscal year in the black with a positive balance. GableStage’s Fund Balance, as reported on each of its Form 990’s, has consistently reflected a healthy surplus in net assets, allowing GableStage to continuously invest its resources in its mission-driven theater programming, including educational and outreach services to the community at large. Nonprofit organizations that are designated as tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are required to file Form 990 to provide financial information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on an annual basis. The IRS Tax Return Form 990 requires organizations to report financial activity according to the organization’s established fiscal year accounting period. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, organizations may have surpluses or deficits in any given year, however the organization’s financial position over time is the true measure of success of fiscal stability. According to the 2016 Form 990, recently submitted to the IRS, GableStage ended FY 2016-2017 with an annual operating surplus.
GableStage’s rent payments to the Biltmore
Q: Does GableStage pay rent at their current location at the Biltmore Hotel?
A: GableStage has been paying monthly rent conscientiously to the Biltmore since its inception there in 2004. This link is to a letter from the Biltmore Hotel attesting to this relationship.
A sustainable business plan and updates in progress
Q: Is the business plan sustainable? Is it being updated?
A: The business plan approved with the lease includes the preliminary pro-forma for the operation of the theater. GableStage worked in consultation with AMS Planning and Research, a nationally respected arts management firm, to update the operating pro forma for GableStage’s operation of the Playhouse. The updated “Business & Transition Plan” was completed in 2018 and can be viewed here. GableStage conducted this work carefully and thoroughly and used the construction documents phase architectural drawings as a basis to calculate the facility-related costs (e.g., utilities, security, maintenance, etc.). The process of forecasting increasingly more accurate budgets for the operation of the new theater is an ongoing and evolving one throughout its planning and development, taking into account a number of interconnected elements and actions:
- continuously refining operating forecasts and assumptions based on updated architectural and engineering drawings;
- consultative work with the organization’s board and staff regarding programming, staffing and budgeting; and
- examining and extrapolating from the expenditures and revenues of comparable facilities.
This process will continue in earnest until the construction of the theater is completed and opened (the goal for which is in time for the 2020-2021 theater season, but no later than 2022), at which point actual expenditures and revenues will be tracked against the latest forecast; any adjustments necessary will be made based on monthly actuals.
Joe Adler and beyond
Q: Is GableStage made up of only Joe Adler? What happens to the company when he retires?
A: The organization currently has a 10-person professional staff and a 13-member volunteer Board of Directors. Joe Adler is a celebrated leader in Greater Miami’s cultural community and an award-winning artistic director. In December 2018, the Knight Foundation named Joe Adler as one of the 2018 Knight Arts Champions, recognizing his significant contributions to the community’s cultural life. The Knight Foundation provided Mr. Adler with the opportunity to designate a $10,000 contribution to an artist or arts organization of his choice. Mr. Adler directed the gift to arts education nonprofit Arts for Learning, for its robust student programs in the heart of the West Grove community, reaching underserved children and families in the area. This designation was made to reinforce GableStage’s commitment to serving the entire Grove community with emphasis on the educational needs of the West Grove.
GableStage and its board is working with AMS Planning and Research on a succession plan that will include hiring additional staff in anticipation of the company’s move to the Coconut Grove Playhouse. The 2018 “Business & Transition Plan” produced by GableStage in cooperation with AMS Planning and Research contains an outline and timetable for the succession process.
The success of the new theater
Q: What happens if GableStage is wildly successful and outgrows the 300-seat theater?
A: In response to sold-out shows, GableStage would add additional show dates and times as it has done in the past.
The type of theater done by GableStage
Q: Does GableStage produce controversial plays?
A: The mission of GableStage is to provide the South Florida community with classical, contemporary and new theatrical productions of artistic excellence. Like the best regional theaters in America, they challenge their multicultural audiences with innovative productions that entertain as well as examine today’s issues and ideas. By emphasizing nontraditional casting and employing the best of our local creative force, GableStage commits itself to meeting the needs of our diverse community. Additionally, GableStage mentors and advances local actors, directors, designers and technicians by providing them with opportunities to achieve artistic acclaim in this region. GableStage’s work has ranged from producing “Choir Boys,” the first Miami production of the work of Academy Award-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” produced in 2017-2018 with FIU as its educational touring program to 25 high schools. The excellence of these productions has been recognized in consistently excellent critical reviews and by the company’s receiving 60 Carbonell awards for its outstanding work.
The company’s name
Q: Will the name GableStage change once they are no longer based in Coral Gables?
A: Yes. The company will announce its new name in advance of its first season in Coconut Grove Playhouse.
Education and FIU
Q: What educational benefits will the GableStage and FIU relationship provide to the community?
A: The GableStage/FIU relationship has already begun to produce collaborations between the two entities via joint theatrical productions. GableStage is collaborating with FIU on a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” that is reaching thousands of high school students. Given the opportunities that will be available for students, faculty and staff in the new theater, FIU also has committed to developing South Florida’s first Masters of Fine Arts in Theater degree.
GableStage believes the future of theater can be assured only by the development of young audiences. They currently have an in-house mainstage and in-school touring educational program as major components of their organization. These programs will be continued and expanded at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. GableStage also nurtures other cultural organizations by making its theater space available for use to other cultural and community groups.
Other activities at the new Playhouse
Q: Is anything else planned for the theater or will it be used only by GableStage?
A: The facility will be a hub for K-12 educational programs for theater, and will be instrumental in supporting the collaboration between GableStage and FIU as the University develops the first and only Masters of Fine Arts degree program in theater in South Florida. In addition, spaces will be made available for other events such as dance, music, educational programs, film, etc. when not in use by GableStage or FIU.
Q: What is a regional theater and how will having a regional theater at the Coconut Grove Playhouse benefit the Miami theater community?
A: Regional theaters are professional theaters that cultivate the work of local actors and technical staff and produce their own shows. As the ancestral home of theater in Miami, the new state-of-the-art Coconut Grove Playhouse theater will be the hub for developing and retaining theater talent within our community. In addition, regional theaters have deep commitments to educational programs that introduce kids to the wonders of live theater. The affiliation with FIU will extend this commitment to a whole new level, enabling students, faculty and the university community to collaborate with a professional theater at its highest level. This model is exemplified by such national examples as Yale University and the Yale Repertory Theater and Brown University and the Trinity Repertory Company.
Q: Why did the County reject Kevin Spacey’s offer to run the Coconut Grove Playhouse?
A: Mr. Spacey never offered to run the Playhouse. The County has a clear plan to bring great theater to the Coconut Grove Playhouse and welcomes any honest and reputable assistance in advancing the plan as outlined in the property lease agreement.