Temporada Alta management's mode
With this section, open since 2015 and updated every year, we intend to answer a series of general questions about the Festival with the aim of getting closer to the audience. From the beginning we have maintained the firm commitment of transparency and presentation of the accounts of one of the country’s most remarkable cultural events.
Temporada Alta’s beginnings
We were set up with the support of Bitò in 1992 and, from the beginning, we have had the collaboration of the Girona City Council. In that first edition we put on 4 shows, in 20 functions, over 26 days. The initial budget was no more than €46,270. Nowadays, we are a fully established festival, with a programme and a global budget that greatly multiplies those initial figures.
In all these years we have strengthened our links with Girona City Council, the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Provincial Council of Girona, the Salt City Council, the INAEM (National Institute of Scenic Arts and Music) and the CEE. The support of these organizations and institutions is indispensable to understand the reasons for the growth of Temporada Alta. In fact, the collaboration between the private and public sectors has favoured and made our funding possible. We were born from a private initiative, although we are covering a demand of public interest and pursuing the benefit of the culture of our country.
From the very beginning, growth has been upward, both from a quantitative point of view and, above all, a qualitative point of view: today we are considered by critics and professionals as the most important theatre festival in the State, together with the Grec, and undoubtedly as one of the most valued festivals on the European scene. In fact, the annual culture barometer, prepared by the Fundación Contemporánea and commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, placed us as the thirteenth most important cultural event of 2015 in Spain (next to Caixaforum), the third in Catalonia and the most important performing arts festival at the state level.
We are essentially the framework for exhibiting many works in the field of performing arts, but at the same time we have become a framework for artistic creation of networks for exchange and promotion of production. We are a festival directed, produced and managed by Bitò, a private commercial entity, which is responsible for artistic direction, production, technical, commercial, financial and administrative management. Bitò provides Temporada Alta with the necessary material and human resources for it to run well.
Keys to success
We base the programming on a successful formula:
• We provide a gateway to Catalonia for the best shows on the international scene.
• We are the motor of the Catalan scene, promoting the creation of new productions that travel around Catalan theatres and abroad throughout the entire season.
• We are a space for innovation and support for Catalan authorship.
• We bridge the gap between the Catalan scene and the international scene.
• We have become a meeting point between Ibero-American theatre and European theatre.
We have designed a programme aimed at all types of audiences, from people who are less fond of theatre to the best known or professionals in the sector. An open programme with a wide variety of genres and artistic languages.
We base our success on the combination of a series of factors that justify and explain sustained growth: having its roots in the territory; the ability to innovate year after year; the creation of exchange networks between Catalan creators and others; the promotion of collaboration between national and international professionals through co-productions; the opening of a meeting point between European and Ibero-American theatre; pushing its own productions; the incorporation of new disciplines such as music, circus, cinema or dance; the design of a first-class international programme; the commitment with a way of doing things rooted in the territory that is projected to the world; the commitment to performing arts projects of a social and inclusive nature; the capacity, responsibility and involvement of a large number of people; the complicity of hundreds of small suppliers; the determined commitment of the different administrations to become a reference festival; rigour in financial management; the ability to raise alternative means of financing and the search for private resources by Bitò; and finally the complicity with the public and the professionals of the country.
We started in 1992 with the aim of increasing the presence of the theatre in Girona. The first qualitative leap took place in 1996 when, beyond the commitment to local production, we also adopted a clear international orientation. Starting in 2001, we expanded the artistic languages and opened up to disciplines such as dance, music and circus. On the other hand, we also started collaborating with companies, producers and public theatres from other geographical areas, bearing the start-up costs of shows that we would go on to launch and which would be shown everywhere.
In 2006, the Generalitat de Catalunya made a clear commitment to Temporada Alta and it became the Festival de Tardor de Catalunya. The following year we started receiving support from the Ministry of Culture. Between 2007 and 2012 Temporada Alta and El Canal-Centre d’Arts Escèniques de Salt/Girona worked together in the production of shows, most of which we premièred during the Festival. This is an innovative model that would later be used by the Festival d’ Avignon to put together its collaboration with productions and co-productions, creating La FabricA in 2013. The cessation of the activity of El Canal-Centre d’Arts Escèniques means that, as of 2013, we have had to take on the tasks of production and co-production of shows.
In the coming years we want to strengthen our position at the artistic level as an international festival of reference and, at the same time, we want to become a motor for the Catalan scene, promoting an ecosystem that facilitates the presence of more and more Catalan and International artists in the Girona area and promoting contemporary local creativity.
At Temporada Alta we want to continue improving the relationship with the citizens and this can be done in many ways: taking into account the opinion of the citizens when putting the programme together; trying to find ways so that no one is left out due to financial, training or origin issues; and incorporating the voice of the citizen in the strategic management of the Festival through the Fundació La Ciutat Invisible.
We split the organization into nine areas of work: artistic direction, production, communication, marketing, ticketing, technical aspects, sponsorship and patronage, administration and finally management, who is responsible for global coordination. Each of the areas has a manager, who coordinates both those who work there and volunteers or people gaining work experience. The heads of all areas meet weekly with the management to coordinate the entire Festival.
Bitò fully bears the financial risk of the Festival and it is the one who also has to bear any losses that may be generated, whether they are due to bad artistic planning, bad financial management or other factors that are beyond the possibility of control by Bitò. A Festival with a wide international programme, many new releases and a lot of contemporary creation involves a considerable level of risk, as much as a result of the uncertainty of whether the shows will be enjoyed by the public and the income at the ticket office, as by the current economic circumstances and the continuity of the sponsors.
The role in the production of shows
Most major festivals not only put on shows, but also help to produce new ones. From the beginning we have tried to help, sometimes modestly, some productions, taking care of the expenses of the rehearsal space and the stay during the Festival and during the last week of production. For four years, however, and as a result of El Canal closing down, we have taken on the role as a motor for the scene with our own productions and co-productions.
When we promote one of our own productions, sometimes in collaboration with others, we fully assume all management responsibilities. The production of these shows has public funding and, of course, we present the account relationship of both production and exhibition, following the requirements of the administration. When one of these shows has continued to be put on beyond the Festival (such as the case of Terra Baixa and Lluís Homar in the 2015 edition), and despite not having any legal obligation to do so, the show has continued being audited.
Another matter relates to co-productions, initiatives which we participate in but which we do not manage. The management thereof is carried out by a company, a theatre or an external producer. In these cases we usually provide financial help to lost funds in production in exchange for the commitment to première at the Festival. In co-productions it is the companies that take the risks and Bitò is not involved in said risks. Co-productions do not usually have financial benefits (practically never as in the case of festivals such as the TNC, the Mercat de les Flors or the Teatre Lliure), because they are not commercial shows, but artistic theatre, of contemporary creation. The aim of these co-productions is to help creation in the Catalan performing arts scene to be able to investigate, find new ways, have greater visibility inside and outside our country, and at the same time generate jobs and be used as a platform for emerging talents. It is, to put it bluntly and in colloquial terms, a cultural investment.
The financial resources come basically from the sale of tickets, the sponsors or patrons, and the public administrations.
In recent years the sale of tickets has been between 22% and 30% of the total revenue. Sponsorship and patronage between is 20 and 25%. And the contribution of the administration is between 47% and 49%. Private financing and public financing are, therefore, practically balanced, but our own funds have exceeded public ones in recent years.
In the European continental system, outside of the Anglo-Saxon world, the subsistence of a stage festival at Temporada Alta’s level and characteristics without strong public support is not possible. However, at Temporada Alta we are on the low side of public contribution if we compare it with the other major European festivals. It should be noted that the five main performing arts festivals in Europe (Festival d’Avignon, Kunstenfestivaldesarts of Bruxelles, Festwochen of Vienna, RomaEuropa Festival and Grec Festival) have more than 50% public funding (somewhere between 52% for Avignon and 75% for Vienna).
The ideal model which we are based on is what Jacques Lang proposed, according to which the costs of a national festival would be expected to cover 33% with the sale of tickets, 33% with private sponsorship and 33% with public funds. One of the strengths of the Temporada Alta is precisely the private patronage, which is already at 28.6%, and it is made up mainly of small and medium-sized businesses that provide an average of 3,500 euros. It should be noted that we have designed an exceptional patronage system and that is why we are invited to many conferences to explain the model.
These figures suggest that it should be possible to achieve the target of 33% in the medium term, although the current financial system does not favour patronage. Much more difficult, of course, will be to reach 33% of income from ticket sales. Taking into account the capacity of the theatres of the city and that the occupation already shows values greater than 90%, the only option would be to raise ticket prices, a measure that management does not want to consider.
Relationship with the public administrations
The involvement of the public administrations, and especially of Girona City Council, has been decisive for our development. Girona City Council has actively collaborated since the beginning by means of the injection of financial resources, the transfer of public facilities for the shows, the contribution of a part of the staff and the adoption of a main role in promotion and diffusion. In a way, although management of the Festival has been taken over by Bitò, Girona City Council has been a co-organizer since its inception…
The other administrations also participate actively and importantly: Salt City Council (since 1998), the Provincial Council of Girona (1999), the Generalitat de Catalunya (2003), the European Union (2002) and the Ministry of Culture (2004).
One of the great problems for the organization of the Festival is the delay in the contribution of public funds. Bitò makes up for this with careful management of its own resources, using the treasury and, moreover, bank financing. Another of the difficulties is uncertainty when it comes to quantifying the contributions when putting together the programme and, therefore, to prepare the budget.
Temporada Alta budget audits are carried out by public institutions that co-finance us. We submit all the original invoices with their payment receipts to these institutions and we provide them with the Bitò balance sheet, obtained from the audits that are carried out every year by external companies. From its beginnings, Girona City Council has audited Temporada Alta’s accounts and in the case of the different European subsidies (Interreg or POCTEFA) also by the Provincial Council of Girona, the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of the Treasury and the European Community. In all cases the accounts have been considered adjusted and correct.
From this year onwards the subsidies from Girona City Council and Girona Provincial Council will be fully and exclusively assigned to the part of the festival devoted to productions and co-productions, international programming, contemporary creation and companies and artists from Girona. The subsidy from the Ministry of Culture will be fully and wholly assigned to the programming of shows from other Spanish autonomous communities, that of the European Union to the production and programming of the projects indicated in the programme and, finally, that of the Catalan Government to the Festival as a whole.
Ticket management and ticketing
The price of a ticket is usually between €2 and €38. The average price of tickets sold is €15. There are special discounts for people who purchase a subscription, under 25s, groups at risk of social exclusion (Cultural Approach), pensioners and unemployed people, holders of the library card, and members of GEiEG, the TR3C Club and El Club de La Ciutat Invisible, among others.
Bear in mind that 10% of the amount of the tickets goes towards VAT payments and another 10% to the copyright. With the rest, we cover approximately 20% of the cost of the Festival.
A subcontracted outsourced company managed the ticketing system until 2011. Since then we have been operating our own company (101.019 SL), focused on the provision of technical services, although it also manages or has managed to market other events such as the Festival Ítaca, Portal Blau, the Festival de Música de Torroella, the Enderrock Awards Gala or the FIMAG (International Magic Fair).
The ticket sales software belongs to a company from Girona (Koobin) that allows us to assume self-management of the ticket with its complexity: to program its contents, the number of tickets, the bookings, the prices, the discounts , the commissions, the price zones, the promotions, the mapping of the spaces, encrypting the groups, planning the views, etc. This ticketing system allows tracking sales daily, resolving incidents in real time and, in general, enjoying autonomy and flexibility which is not available with outsourced ticketing.
This new programme has allowed us to reduce costs, but above all we can develop our own databases, directly communicate with the public and offer segmented proposals, obtain payments and assistance levels in real time, and finally, become more flexible when it comes to carrying out promotions or duplicating functions quickly if necessary. Nowadays, an innovative and forward-looking festival cannot continue to evolve without its own sales system and management of its own data.
The management of the reservations can cause a particular debate, especially when tickets to certain shows are sold out quickly. Reserve tickets are those tickets that are not put up for sale at the beginning because they have been assigned to the press, professionals, companies, sponsors, groups with whom an agreement has been reached or people with difficulties accessing the Festival for financial reasons, but they finally become available because the original owners cannot attend. It is usual, for example, that by contract, good locations for the company must be reserved in all functions. Therefore, some of the tickets are initially blocked for these reasons. If the holders do not attend in the end, they end up being put up for sale. It is possible, during the course of the Festival, but especially at the last minute, for tickets are available for shows that had already been sold out. The closing balance communicates the number of viewers and the invitations for each of the functions.
The maintenance of a ticketing system entails expenses: licenses, rents, improvements, updates, thermal readers, etc. Working with the current ticketing system has allowed, as confirmed by the audits, to cut the maintenance and financial costs that we had with the previous provider in half. Commissions from sales have decreased from 3.5% to 2% and the end-client commissions are between €0.5 and €1, when with the previous supplier they were between €1.90 and €3.25.
Relationship with Girona and its companies
We are a festival with a clear international projection, but at the same time we want to be a festival of reference in our country, a festival with an essential role in Catalan authorship, and a motor for the creation of performing arts in the Girona area.
Since the first edition, in which Degustació from the Salt Workshop was shown, we wanted to give special importance to artists from the Girona region. We try to offer support to their tasks by supporting the production and programming of shows. On some occasions for productions carried out by professionals mostly from Girona. On other occasions there is an important presence of artists from our regions. In the last editions we have achieved an average of about 25 shows and activities with the participation of artist from Girona.
In addition, we continue to expand the exhibition spaces with the aim of getting closer to the citizens. We expanded the performances beyond the Teatre de Girona, la Planeta, la Mercè, el Teatre de Salt and El Canal. We are present, for example, in the public libraries of Girona, Truffaut cinema, Casa Pastors, the Casa de Cultura, the Classrooms of the schools and instituts, Sant Pere de Galligants, CaixaForum, the Church of Sant Domènec and several spaces of the Old Quarter.
Finally, we should point out that we have been leaving the original territory of Girona and Salt for some years to reach other municipalities such as Bescanó, Celrà, Sant Gregori, Banyoles, Torroella de Montgrí, Palafrugell, Sant Feliu de Guíxols…
Just like with the big European festivals and with the will to be transparent with the environment and have a different and sensitive relationship with the citizens, we have up to 30 volunteers in each edition. Continuing the tradition of major festivals that have introduced the figure of the volunteer to improve proximity to the public.
The objective is to open up and give an opportunity to people interested in cultural events or the organization of shows so that they can experience it first-hand. It should be noted that in the last editions we have received a number of applications higher than the number of positions available and we have had to conduct interviews in order to know profiles and availabilities.
Bitò makes sure that the work carried out by the volunteers does not substitute or replace any job position. The 30 volunteers do not carry out executive functions in any case, they do however support various communication, production and patronage tasks. What’s more, Bitò puts a lot of effort into coordinating and monitoring its conscious work, which represents an added value of the highest order.
At the Festival we offer volunteers the opportunity to:
• Experience the festival and get to know how it operates from within.
• Be in contact with the actors and directors.
• Be next to other people with similar concerns.
• Get experience in the world of cultural festivals.
In addition, we organise periodic training sessions to explain to volunteers how the various facets of the festival work: artistic programming, marketing, production, communication or patronage. A training process that involves all the departments of Bitò. It also includes a seminar for public management by an expert that offers tools based on theatrical techniques that can be useful when it comes to attending the audience and working on empathy, improvisation, self-control, conflict resolution…
Bitò is a company that was set up in 1991 which is aimed at the management, creation, production and distribution of cultural products, in particular in performing arts. It is one of the largest producers in the State and has 26 full-time staff, but depending on the Festival or the productions it may have more than 100 people hired at any given time.
Aware of Temporada Alta’s social impact, Bitò annual accounts are audited in addition to the strict internal controls. This is a practice which Bitò has carried out since 2009, although it did not have the obligation to do so at that time. Naturally, the contribution of public funds requires the maximum economic, financial and legal control, with more intensity if required than required by regulations. It is for this reason that all the company projects that receive public funding are specifically audited.
Apart from the Festival, these are some of the main activities that Bitò has carried out:
• It has produced more than 80 shows and about 3,300 functions, with more than 1.7 million viewers. Some of the highlights include: La reina de Bellesa de Leenane; A little night music; La Plaça de Diamant; Primer Amor; Copenhaguen; El dubte; Toc-toc; El Crèdit; Conillet; El preu, Les noies de Mossbank Road…
• From 1992 to 2013, management, direction and production of school theatre campaigns.
• Organization, production or management of other festivals: Porta Ferrada 2013, FIMAG 2015, Festival Antiqua, Obra Social la Caixa.
• Programming and management of Municipal Theatres (Teatre de Salt, Teatre de Blanes and Teatre de Lloret).
• Executive productions for the Festival de Peralada, Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, Grec Festival and others.
• Organization and management of shows tours of other companies or public theatres (Teatro Español de Madrid, TNC, Teatre Lliure, Companyia Flotats, Sergi López, etc.).
• Production of tours for Obra Social de la Caixa (Té a la Menta, conferences and workshops in Caixa Fòrums, in addition to the previously mentioned Festival Antiqua)