Accounting on Broadway: A Unique Niche for New York Firms

As you may or may not know, the Tony Awards, honoring the best on Broadway for this past season, were held a couple days ago.  The day after, I was sitting in front of my computer late at night, wondering what to write about.  I wanted to focus on one particular area of the accounting industry, but which one?  There are so many different industries served by accountants.

I suddenly realized that one of those industries is entertainment, specifically, Broadway.  Accountants play a very important role in the production of a Broadway show in many ways.

  • They provide accounting, auditing, and consulting services to Broadway producers.  Many producers are exclusively that, but there are also many producers in New York that come from other industries such as finance, manufacturing, telecommunications, and law.  In this way, an accountant well-versed in show business could provide services to a first-time investor and educate them about the ins and outs of the business.
  • A Broadway accountant also keeps records of production expenses, as the producer needs to track how the investments in the production are being spent.  They keep the producer informed with projections, reviews, and compilations, among other services.
  • Those other services include taking care of payroll entries, filing tax returns, entering box office settlements,  and entering and reconciling royalty payments.
  • Finally, one unique facet about accountants for Broadway is that they can help producers become their own unique business entities.  Accountants can assist producers in forming a limited liability company (LLC) under their own name.  This way, if or when the show turns a profit, the producer is the “manager” of the company, and all of the investors in the company hold equity shares.  Examples of this are Glass Slipper Productions, LLC, formed by producer Eric Schmidt for the revival of Cinderella, and as an associate producer for Bullets Over Broadway, Don’t Speak, LLC was formed between several investors (Get it?  I think that’s really clever).

So now that I’ve told you a bit about what accountants do for Broadway productions, here are a few accounting firms in New York that have gained a reputation for the services they provide to the Theater District.

 

Fried & Kowgios Partners

Founded in 2003 between accountants Robert Fried and Karen Kowgios, this firm prides itself in the unique niche it has created servicing for-profit and non-profit theatre in New York and around the country.  To quote from its website:

Fried & Kowgios Partners has been able to marry the technical aspects of both commercial and not-for-profit Theatre with the accounting practices that are required of the theatrical industry and the complex rules under which not-for profit organizations are governed. By using our advanced knowledge of the theatrical field, the firm is able to provide producers, general managers, and lawyers the essential services that these entities need in order to operate effectively. In addition, we can advise management and boards on business practices and charitable operations to help them successfully fulfill their mission.

Our personal passion for the theatrical industry is what helps define how we succeed as a company. The unique knowledge that we bring to the table enables us to accomplish the detailed compliance issues associated with theatrical ventures, while also creating a real interest in our clients’ product.

This firm has served 19 shows currently on Broadway, and probably at least a hundred more since its founding more than ten years ago.  For more information about them, visit their website at http://www.fkpartnersllp.com.

Marks Paneth

https://i2.wp.com/www.markspaneth.com/assets/images/imgMPSLogo.png

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  They used to be called Marks Paneth & Shron, but they recently rebranded.  Now, with an estimated $98 million in revenue, Marks Paneth is one of the largest accounting firms in the New York metro.  Aside from their arts and entertainment practice, they also serve clients in financial services, real estate, energy, the nonprofit sector, among others.  A full list is available here: http://www.markspaneth.com/our-firm-and-services/industries

They have several clients on Broadway right now, including recent Tony Award for Best Musical winner A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and Best Revival of a Play winner A Raisin in the Sun.  They also worked with last year’s Best Musical winner Kinky Boots, and the recent revival of Les Misérables.  I personally am familiar them from a marketing perspective, as they used to put out an incredibly creative advertising campaign, “It All Ads Up”, that could be seen via posters on Metro-North trains going in and out of New York.  Those ads can be seen here: http://www.markspaneth.com/it-all-adds-up

Truth be told, I spent half of a two-hour train ride trying to figure out the one with the supermodels and the pashminas.  The others are fun, too.

Schall and Ashenfarb

I had actually never heard of this firm prior to embarking on this post, but after visiting schallandashenfarb.com, I see that it’s a very diversified firm that has a specialty in the nonprofit sector, as well as shows on Broadway and national tours.  They also specialize in the medical fields, service industries, and sole proprietorships.  Currently on Broadway, they provide accounting services to Jersey Boys and Matilda, and my research suggests they’ve provided services going as far back as the musical Titanic in 1997.

Lutz & Carr

This firm has gone very minimalist with their website, lutzandcarr.com.  I like that.  Their home page reads:

“For over 50 years, we have been dedicated to providing quality auditing, tax, and consulting services to a wide range of clients, with particular expertise providing these services to not-for-profit organizations, private foundations, arts and cultural institutions, theatrical productions, the film industry, real estate concerns, closely held businesses, individuals and families.”

I can understand their dedication to nonprofit organizations and theatrical productions, as a few of their current clients on Broadway are the Lincoln Center Theater production of Act One, and the Roundabout Theatre Company productions of Violet and Cabaret.  Also, up until 2009, Lutz & Carr was in charge of tabulating votes for the Tony Awards.  That year, the Tony organizers switched to KPMG to fulfill those duties in order to bring a “higher profile” to the awards.  Personally, I don’t recognize that higher profile, and I didn’t even know KPMG was involved until I read this article: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=arMh78QcN.OM

In any case, I hope you learned something about the world of accounting on Broadway.  Like what you see?  Talk to me on Twitter at @HeyNickNappo.

Take care!

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