Spoleto expected to end 2008 fiscal year in debt

At the annual board of directors meeting Monday, Spoleto director Nigel Redden reported that the festival is expected to end the 2008 fiscal year with a deficit of about $300,000 in its operating budget. This will be the first time in 12 years that Spoleto hasn't seen a year-end profit, according to The Post and Courier. The newspaper discusses the reasons for the shortfall:

The festival has encountered multiple obstacles this year:

On April 25, festival Chairman Eric Friberg announced that $246,000 earmarked for the festival had been cut from the S.C. Legislature's budget and that corporate and foundation contributions were down 12 to 15 percent. Despite hard lobbying by board members — who pointed out to lawmakers the festival's $60 million to $70 million economic value — legislators did not restore the cut when the state House and Senate passed the new budget last week.

"With this poor economy, we predict 2009 probably will be even softer, and so we are taking this deficit very seriously," board Treasurer Carlo Evans said. He added that board members would be called upon for additional financial support.

Festival officials also cited the high cost of "Monkey: Journey to the West" as a reason for the deficit. The elaborate production is running 18 times at a cost of $1.2 million. Critical response and ticket sales for the musical, a last-minute replacement for "Sweeney Todd," have been very positive, however. The New York Times quoted Redden: "Basically 'Monkey,' I think, was an expensive choice but a very good one," he said, adding that it was expected to sell out.

Was "Monkey" worth the cost? Check out this video clip of the show:

There were also several other factors brought up, such as higher fuel costs, higher costs for airline tickets, and a visa issue with one of the dancers in "Rite of Spring."

To put things in perspective, however, The Post and Courier article also adds this:

Reminding the board that the festival has weathered much rougher times, (board treasurer Carlo) Evans said, "Remember, about 10 years ago, the festival had a $3 million debt and now has a $15 million net worth.

Redden added that the festival also has a $10 million endowment.