With the winter solstice rising and the economy plummeting the forecast for theaters and performing arts groups looks a little bleak. Fortunately most companies will weather the winter but a production slowdown looks imminent for spring when most theaters set season schedules for the following fall. A royalty rollback seems ill advised, artists barely make a living as it is. Theaters need ticket sales to survive. It’s a two-way street between producers and audiences. No play, no audience, so the play goes on. But what about the audience and discretionary spending this season? Isn’t everyone cutting back? So, do you drop admission prices? Maybe. But then how do we pay our actors and directors? Even non-professional theaters rely on ticket sales to pay the rent, cover costumes, sets, props, advertising, programs, utilities and any other wide range of expenses inherent in operating a production company. And don’t look for a bailout. The arts are the first to go in government and educational spending. So, how can your theatre cut costs this season? Start but looking for eco-friendly publishing companies using the internet to provide on-line reading of playscripts, royalty applications and downloads. You can save a bundle on postage and professional printing and still get the majority of the money you spend on performance rights into the hands of those who deserve it most: the playwrights. Heartland Plays is a great place to start. Okay, so we know our playlist is small, but we’re growing. Every successful publishing company started with a handful of scripts. We’ll add titles as quality plays come our way. And they are coming. Thank you, playwrights. But don’t wait until you’re searching through a big catalog of plays to find one that fits your audience. One may be just the right one for you. After all, big gifts do come in small packages.