Thoughts from a Los Angeles Theater Producer

Better Business Bureau of Theater

Posted in Producer Tools, Producer's League by Rick Culbertson on February 22, 2010

It is no secret that there are plenty of people who make money in this town on the backs of producers. And while I have no issue with people making money, I do have issue with people who behave unethically in their pursuit of profit. I am sure that every producer in LA can tell a story of how this person or that company screwed him or her in some way. But all too often these companies/people get away with this behavior because no one stands up to them. During the run of a show, most producers don’t have the resources to engage a company or theater that is behaving unethically. And after the run, if a producer speaks negatively about a person or company, they are accused of sour grapes, or worse. All this happens while the rest of the community just goes about their business. The producer has nowhere to turn, and no one to help hold the unethical company/person accountable.

Well, what if we all worked together to hold unethical companies accountable? What if we had a Better Business Bureau of Theater that would take complaints? What if all the producers got together and started to rate companies/people based on producer feedback?

If we had a producer’s organization, we could set up a database that could track every company/person a producer hires. It could work like this: at the conclusion of each show, a producer could rate the various companies/people who were hired on the project. If there was a problem with a ticketing company or a theater, then you could give them a low score. If your PR Rep or Marketing Rep did a great job, you could give them a high score. Over time, we would be able to see a pattern emerge: companies who are behaving ethically would likely retain higher scores, while companies that aren’t would clearly show lower ratings. Producers could then look at the ratings and steer their hiring practices toward companies that are rated highly, thereby avoiding companies that are not delivering.

The more producers that participate, the better the data would be. And securing this data is exactly how we, as producers, can hold  companies, theaters, and people we contract with accountable.

When a company constantly receives a low rating then the Producer’s Organization would reach out to them and try to understand the cause. The Producer’s Organization could set some guidelines as to what we (the producers) expect from companies and people who we hire. If the company works to correct the issues, then great! The rating would naturally go up, allowing that company to start anew. If they refuse to change, however, then the members of the Producers Organization would likely avoid using that company in the future, thus limiting their business.

Let’s shine some light on the business side of theater. If we do it together, then we can illuminate a lot. In the end, I think we will find a large number of very reputable people providing excellent services in the LA theater scene– people who deserve our raving reviews, and who deserve to make a profit. We will probably see a few undeserving ones as well. And we can make sure that those companies are held accountable.

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3 Responses

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  1. Drew said, on February 22, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Here, here!

  2. […] Rick Culbertson (Divorce, the Musical), seems to think so.  He suggests forming a type of Better Business Bureau of Theatre compromised of Los Angeles […]

  3. Sylvia said, on March 3, 2010 at 3:06 am

    Agreed. I am currently in the throes of producing my first play in Los Angeles. I’m sure I would have saved myself some consternation if I could easily access information like that outlined above.


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