SCCA reports good financial news

Published 8:52 pm Monday, December 6, 2010

The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is reporting good news from the first three quarters of its fiscal year.

“This year, if we don’t break even, we’ll come very close to it,” said Paul Lasakow, executive director of the arts center.

From January through September, the center’s Limited Partnership, which runs the center, reflects a positive cash flow of $16,185 after depreciation and other extraordinary items are removed. Lasakow said the change represents a shift in the way money is handled at the center and in its programming.

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“We’re not only being very, very careful about spending, the new paradigm that we’re pursuing [costs] significantly less than booking acts off the road,” Lasakow said.

In its last two seasons, the center has been gearing its schedule more toward community theater rather than bringing in national acts.

“I am still very convinced that what Suffolk needs us to be is a community arts center,” he said.

Lasakow said he has saved money this year by eliminating positions, working with suppliers to cut costs and renegotiating “virtually every contract we had.”

“I don’t want to spend it unless I know where it’s coming from,” Lasakow said. “It’s simply sound fiscal management.”

In the past, Lasakow said, the center was relying too heavily on ticket sales to meet financial needs. Now, the center’s fundraising efforts are ramped up, which are reflected in increased contributions this fiscal year.

“There was a greater expectation of ticket revenue than what came to fruition,” Lasakow said. “Nobody comes out of the box with the formula set. You’ve got to dial it in.”

Overall, in the first three quarters of 2010, the center’s Limited Partnership reflects a loss of about $598,000. However, that loss reflects depreciation on the building and debt payments for which the money is held in another account, Lasakow said.

The Foundation, which raises money for the center, reflected a loss of only about $5,000 for the first three quarters.

“Our fundraising efforts are very cost-effective,” Lasakow said. “The administrative expense it takes us to raise that money is very low.”

Lasakow praised the findings in a letter to City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn.

“The Center’s fiscal health continues to improve,” Lasakow wrote. He also stressed his goal of “being independent of any one source of funding,” but still said the center will always be dependent in part on city money.

“As with all such organizations, our fiscal health will always be dependent in part upon support through tax dollars,” Lasakow wrote. “But we realize that decreasing the percentage of governmental support by increasing revenues through earned income, memberships and other sources of philanthropy is essential to the long-term sustainability of the SCCA.”