October 26, 1944: Prior to the formation of the Arts Council, the not-for-profit theatre sector was still in its infancy and was causing widespread concern among the established commercial operators. Our editorial asked: “If a ‘non-profit’ management charges just the same for a seat as a profit-making one, where does the profit go to?”
“This cogent question has been put to us by a correspondent. It is one among many signs of the strong feeling that exists among members both of the profession and of the public over the system by which tax-free production is granted to so-called ‘non-profit’ organisations.
“It seems about time we should get some statement from authoritative quarters in view of the dreadful official mess that now prevails. So far as mere observation can survey possibilities, they shape themselves quite nicely like this. In order to be accepted as a non-profit concern, a management has only to give its profits the innocuous names of rent and salaries.
“Thus freed from tax, it can build up a prosperous and secure business, guaranteed against loss, and live on the fat of the land, supported by a goodwill and gratuitous publicity capable of driving all competitors out into the cold. Then, if at any time a production proves so successful that tax can be cheerily faced, a break-away can always be arranged, or the lucky show can be run on the side as an all-out and unashamed profit-maker.
“No one would suggest, of course, that this is what actually happens in any one particular case. Yet it is what might happen. It points to what many people consider a wholly illogical and unjust state of things…”
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