For-Profit vs. Non-Profit Management

The term “non-profit” seems to be worrying some people.

To them, it makes it sound as if Friends of the Loew’s only has very limited goals.

There’s also a tendency to confuse “non-profit” with “amateur”.

It doesn’t help that Mayor Fulop is trying to make people think that you have to choose between FOL’s non-profit management and having major commercial concerts. You don’t have to, but he’s made people nervous.

It’s important to remember that Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall are operated by non-profit management.

Roundabout Theatre Co., which is currently presenting Cabaret on Broadway, along with six other production on and off Broadway, is non-profit.

Want more examples? Google The Count Basie Theatre in Redbank, BergenPAC in Englewood, The State Theater in New Brunswick, The Atlanta Fox, Proctor’s in Schenectady and Playhouse Square in Cleveland. All very active arts centers that present big commercial concerts along with a wonderful variety of other programming, and all are all non-profit.

Why non-profit? Google “Live Nation” and “AEG” and look at the schedules of theatres they run. You won’t see a lot of the kinds of programming in addition to major concerts that most people agree the Loew’s should have: local arts, community-centered, family, ethnic, affordable, film. That’s because for profit theatres are run by commercial promoters who can only worry about one thing: Making the most money for owners and shareholders. They have no reason to want to do more.
It would be presumptuous to assume that for profit management will suddenly guarantee of a lot of concerts at the Loew’s Jersey Theatre. Promoters have been known to want to take over a venue not so much to use it but to keep potential competitors out.

Friends of the Loew’s has always planned to work with major promoters to bring in big shows, but put the income earned back into other programming along with donations and grants.

That’s what all those other non-profit managed theatres do, and that what FOL and Jersey City are supposed to be doing in partnership of the Loew’s, per the terms of our lease.

The problem isn’t that Friends of the Loew’s is non-profit. It’s a lot simpler than that: Our Landlord and partner, the City government, STILL hasn’t done what it agreed to ten years ago in order to allow FOL to book in more and bigger concerts and grow into the kind of operations all those other non-profit theatres have. And Mayor Fulop has just made it worse: Stopping FOL from using over $500,000 in grant we won to make important repair that will make the Loew’s safer and easier to book for concerts. So FOL has kept the Loew’s going with the best programming possible under the circumstance, while we wait for the City to begin work.

It’s ironic that the City is trying to use the result of its own inaction to justify abandoning the goal of giving Jersey City the kind of all-around arts center that many other cities enjoy.

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