Barb Wiswall is CFO of the Arizona Broadway Theatre (ABT) and Klos Enterprises, the food operation behind the Phoenix dinner theater.
There are at least two reasons she doesn’t worry a lot about credit card processing or security. One is the Merchant Bill of Rights pioneered by Heartland to promote fairness and transparency in credit, debit, and prepaid processing. The other is how processing technology and related service has delivered on the initial promise.
In short, it all works.
That allows Wiswall to focus her attention on two challenging operations. The theatre and restaurant businesses are hard enough to manage separately. Together, it’s an operation that demands the timing and efficiency of a Swiss watch.
“Our biggest challenge is financing everything that needs to be done,” said Wiswall. “Theatre itself has experienced lots of changes in electronics, lighting, sound, and how it all operates together. It costs a lot of money to upgrade those elements.”
The theatre is a year-round operation that puts on musicals and concerts such as “Hair,” “Mary Poppins,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Mama Mia”. The restaurant side has an extensive dinner menu.
Unlike major metropolitan areas with a long-standing and vibrant theater presence, think New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, the ABT actually recruits on Broadway.
“We get a lot of our actors from New York,” said Wiswall. “We travel to New York and conduct auditions a few times a year. Sometimes they come to Phoenix and stay because they are able to perform in more than one production. We rent a number of apartments, so the actors have a place to stay as they come and go.”
The restaurant and theatre businesses are 14 years old. In 2006, the theatre business was spun off into a non-profit – The Arizona Broadway Theatre Performing Arts Association. The mission extends well beyond productions. ABT’s new Encore Room is designed to be a gathering place for community engagement and collaboration as well as a workspace for creative young artists.
Given the broad spectrum of the business operations, Wiswall is grateful that Heartland walks the walk, in terms of the Merchant Bill of Rights. It all works so well that Wiswall barely has to think about that part of the operation.
“Payments is such a minute portion of what anyone does here,” says Wiswall. “It’s good to know how we’re being billed and how it all fits together.”
On with the show!