Mark Morris Dance Groups

Mark Morris Dance Groups Grows Revenue and Expands with Help from The Financial Edge

The Mark Morris Dance Group was formed in 1980 and gave its first concert that year in New York City. The company’s touring schedule steadily expanded to include cities both in the U.S. and in Europe. Based in Brooklyn, NY, the company has maintained and strengthened its ties to several cities around the world. The Mark Morris Dance Centre provides a home for the company, rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach programs for local children, and a school offering dance classes to students of all ages.


In 2001, the Mark Morris Dance Group was transitioning from a touring group to a dance company that would house a state-of-the-art dance centre. The new Centre was going to offer a wide range of programming including performances and classes. Therefore, MMDG needed to increase its administrative and program operations, which meant a new, more robust accounting system capable of handling this growth and the detailed account needs required to support both the Centre and the Group.

With an expansion of this size, MMDG needed to be able to analyze incoming revenue and effectively run income statements on all aspects of the company, a process that was difficult with its existing financial application. As MMDG began adding new revenue streams, the need for a more flexible accounting system that would grow with the organization and provide the capability to maintain best accounting procedures for years to come became a necessity. Its existing system did not have an acceptable means to report, filter or query on a large portion of MMDG’s financial data. Finally, with multiple studios in their Brooklyn-based Dance Centre, MMDG needed to be able to track usage and bill appropriately for each.


After MMDG selected Blackbaud’s The Financial EdgeTM to address its growing accounting needs. The organization determined that The Financial Edge provided the flexibility and level of detail needed by MMDG to help it grow, report, and better understand its financial health. The school opened with 100 students and now has more than 2,000 students and offers more than 100 classes. The Financial Edge has successfully addressed the organizations growing and changing accounting needs.

The flexibility of The Financial Edge enabled MMDG to continue to do its payroll in-house. The tool accommodated the MMDG’s increased payroll complexity as it doubled staff and added full-time, part-time, contract and paid employees.

Because The Financial Edge offers organizations the choice to purchase only the functionality needed, MMDG has added a number of modules over the years as it has grown. The organization began with General Ledger, Payroll and Accounts Payable. It later added Accounts Receivable.


With The Financial Edge, MMDG is able to manage a $6 million operating budget with a Finance staff of only three all while the Dance Centre grew from $100,000 in revenue to over $1 million and added four studios.

“I couldn’t do my job without The Financial Edge. With it we can work smarter, not harder,” said Elizabeth Fox, chief financial officer for Mark Morris Dance Group. “It allows us to focus on growing our business and not the little tasks. We are able to grow without having to add staff, can be more reactive to our customers needs and can make better, more informed business decisions. The growth we have experienced would not have been possible without The Financial Edge.”

MMDG is able to code every expense to a specific program, such as school, outreach or touring in the Financial Edge. This not only ensures payroll is accurate, it also allows MMDG to run income statements on all activities and make sound financial decisions regarding the effectiveness of its programming.

For Fox, the fast, flexible reporting and query functionality in The Financial Edge is key to the organization’s success. The reports provide MMDG with easy access to the information needed to make the best decisions.

Finally, with Accounts Receivable, MMDG is able to manage seven studios each with five different rates. It can easily look up the usage and income for each studio. Fox can find out how many hours each studio was rented and at what price. This helps MMDG analyze space usage to make better decisions and accommodate detailed grant reporting.

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