As the build begins, all purchases must be tracked in the show budget.  Working closely with the shopper, the Properties Director keeps a spreadsheet allowing the expenses on a show to be monitored and anticipated.  As purchases are completed and estimates become reality the show budget is juggled to allow choices to be made with an understanding of the overall impact each decision creates.  The designer is often given a choice between prioritizing one project over another.  Buy the $40 a yard fabric for the chairs and use a table in stock or buy $15 a yard fabric for the chairs and buy a new table, or lumber to build a table that matches the design better than the stock table.  Either choice is correct depending on what resources are available and creates the strongest image of support for the play.  Either choice “costs” the same.  The management of financial resources and priorities and what is best for the design is a constant juggle and requires close collaboration between the shop and the design team.


The budget sheet can be a simple accounting of what has been purchased, or one can divide it by project and purchases split by that identification.  On big shows with larger projects it is handy to have a method of tracking what has been spent on specific projects to assist in future budget projections.  Most shows, however, only require a simple spreadsheet showing what has been purchased, from whom it was purchased, what it cost,when it was purchased, and how it was purchased.  A running total helps the Properties Director quickly access where the budget is on a daily basis and makes the decision making process of prioritization in purchasing easier.


Setting up a standard spreadsheet and working with the shopper to be sure all invoices and receipts are entered on a timely basis keeps the properties director current on what has been spent and allows decisions on anticipated purchases to be relevant to the remaining budget.

It is also important to track HOW supplies were purchased. Many theatres utilize a credit card for the majority of their purchases.  Some still work with purchase orders or have accounts set up with particular vendors.  Lastly, cash transactions are utilized in some instances.

If using petty cash it is crucial all receipts are safeguarded until recorded and submitted for reimbursement.  Most theatres utilize a form to itemize purchases made with petty cash.  The prop shop is advanced a set amount of petty cash at the start of the season to accommodate the purchasing requiring the use of cash such as flea markets, individuals, and small businesses when either the vendor is unable to accept a credit card or the amount of the purchase is too small.  By submitting receipts the petty cash advance is “replenished” as the season progresses and the advance is turned in at season’s end by either reimbursing the amount as cash or as a combination of cash and receipts.

    Click on hyperlinks below to see other examples of prop budgets and budget tracking or reporting forms.

Ms Witherspoon spreadsheet.pdf

Spreadsheet tracking

  Click here to view sub-topics:

BUDGETING             Kinds of Budgets      

Click to move to next “chapter”:  The Rehearsal and Production Process


Click here to view sub-topics:

BUDGETING                    Kinds of Budgets