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Event Budgets (From A Financial Layman’s Perspective)

“Money makes the world go round,” is the sort of capitalist saying that definitely applies to the blockbuster event you are putting together. Almost everything is going to cost you some of your dollars, but here in this article hopefully we’ll find a way to help you keep your sense.

But, in the spirit of complete honesty that I have always strived for in my articles (shameless self-promotion, but yeah, go read them), I feel I have to level with you once again, dear reader: I have no financial qualifications whatsoever. But don’t see that as a reason to leave this page – I’m going to use my experience in the arts and entertainment industries to help you with budgeting from a (financial) layman’s perspective. Let’s go.

Employ Expertise

The obvious point bears writing about first. Just as you would not simply launch yourself into an area that you have absolutely no expertise in, so it is with money matters. Find the best people to advise you budgeting and accounting so you can focus on executing your ideas on pursuing what you specialize in without over-worrying about a blind spot caused simply because you lack the sufficient knowledge or experience in these issues. As with anything else – lights, music, or videography for instance – look for the best people to make your life and job so much easier and reassuring.


Have Reasonable Targets

It isn’t in the nature of some forms of events to be money-spinners or even profit-oriented. Many art forms have performances, for example, that could never even hope to break even. Nonetheless, the general rule of thumb is to plan to not have losses and you should definitely aim to do this. Find ways to recoup some of the spending and this can be done through things like the selling of merchandise or looking for sponsorship tie-ups. Know what the financial situation is like before you start planning the budget so you don’t go overboard with your plans and incur irreparable damage to your finances.

At the same time, of course, don’t be ludicrous and have ridiculously unattainable targets. $2 soft toys are not going to bring about a million-dollar profit.


Not every budget appears from a pot of endlessly-refilling porridge. So when it comes down to decisions about the event itself, it is important to prioritize and decide where the important money should be spent. If you are organizing a music event, it’s probably wise to spend the bulk of your money on things directly impacting the music itself. It is all well and good (probably) to have a 4-dimensional holographic projector but that still wouldn’t serve any real purpose if the main product – the music – is unlistenable.

Decide what is the main selling point and the core of your event and focus your budget on sprucing that part up and making sure that it is top-notch. Everything else should work to complement this only.

Quality Over Quantity

That point leads rather well into this idea – to budget for quality and look at the value of things rather than the price. In other words, even with the limited resources we usually have to deal with, put up the best possible show you can and this is done by streamlining your spending not so much on quantity of details and entertainment, but on the quality of these things. In my book, therefore, it is better to have one performance that is spell-binding rather than a dozen or more mediocre and forgettable acts.

In terms of your objectives for your event, a primary motivation has to be keeping your audience enthralled and having them take away a positive and lasting memory of your show. This in turn generates goodwill and loyalty to your brand in the long run. You have to decide what works for your company, what is the messaging you want and how best to deliver this message. Streamline the message and focus your budget on delivering this to its highest possible quality.

Live In Reality

So, by means of summing up before the actual summing up of this article, the last point I have is to deal in real numbers. This can be explained in two ways. Firstly, deal with specific digits so everyone on your team knows exactly how much it is they have to spend. It can be frustrating to be told you have $1000 to spend and then later discover that that was just a round figure rather than an exact amount.


Secondly, only work with what you have. Don’t leverage or spend on future earnings. Don’t spend money you aren’t confirmed to have and don’t over-borrow. What’s a recipe for international economic disaster is also potentially catastrophic for your company.

That’s It


Not everyone who is ever going to plan an event and, by extension, an event budget, is a math wiz. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a financial apocalypse of an event planner. With these simple guidelines, you can step on the road to having a sustainable and reasonable budget for your event.

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