Each week, industry professionals pore over Broadway’s box office numbers — grosses, average ticket prices, premium ticket prices — to try to get a picture of the Main Stem and the individual productions running on it. But there is one type of industry pro whose job it is to track and report the relevant financials for Broadway — beyond what is released to the public. Broadway accountants are the people who are tracking the business of show business.
Overall, these professionals are responsible for bookkeeping (tracking the budget, incoming bills and outgoing payroll), financial reporting to the producers (creating a weekly financial statement offering a picture of a show’s economic health), preparing annual tax returns, conducting internal audits (which are annual, required by law and submitted to New York state) and, at the highest level, structuring production deals (operating agreements, investment structures, royalty arrangements with creatives and more).
Accountants don’t disperse money or control the production’s bank account. That is the job of general management. Instead, accountants work with these general managers (and their company managers) but serve as the independent arm that reports finances. “It’s all about accountability and having checks and balances,” said Sarah Galbraith, president of Galbraith & Company, an accounting and bookkeeping firm specializing in live theater. “The people who are opening the bank statement or sending our payments shouldn’t also be those who are putting the reports together.”