Circus Oz (A)

By James Phills, Hilary Stockton
2006 | Case No. SI69A | Length 20 pgs.
Circus Oz was Australia’s premier international circus, having performed in 26 countries on five continents. The organization was best known for cutting-edge acts and its quintessentially Australian combination of social satire, inclusiveness, egalitarianism, and self-deprecating humor. In early 2002, Circus Oz enjoyed its strongest financial position since its founding in 1977, making a profit and sitting on a surplus of AUD$1,169,313. Although in recent years the company had increased the percentage of revenue generated from the box office, more than 60 percent if it’s funding still came from the Australia Council, its largest government sponsor. Linda Mickleborough, general manager of Circus Oz, was pondering how to respond to a recent offer by the Australia Council to fund a new position, director of development, at Circus Oz. The Australia Council was strongly encouraging the country’s major performing arts organizations to hire development professionals in order to expand their funding from corporate donors. As an enticement, the Council was offering to underwrite the cost of the position for two years. In addition, Mickleborough had found the ideal candidate in a management consultant named Paul McGill. The decision, however, was still a difficult one. Circus Oz had relatively flat salary, reflecting the deeply held egalitarian and democratic values. These values were central to the company’s creative process, culture, and aesthetic. The suggested salary of the development director position was more than two times the highest salary currently paid to any employee at Circus Oz. Acutely aware of the potential damage a larger salary disparity might wreak on the company’s morale and culture, Mickleborough weighed the potential consequences of both accepting and declining the Australia Council’s offer.
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