This is a question I get asked occasionally. I think it's something that people question but are maybe too afraid to ask, so I thought I would tackle it here.
The simple answer is because youth theatre is a training ground. It is a business, so of course the people who are working with your children need to get paid. Every adult who is involved in a youth theatre company is paid, with exceptions for volunteer roles at some companies. At Actually Acting we pay all our staff, the ones you see and the ones you don't. We also offer a work experience role which is unpaid, but this is designed for a young person who wishes to get more behind-the-scenes experience, not for qualified and experienced staff.
You wouldn't expect your child to have free piano lessons, or join a soccer club without a fee. When you consider the amount of skills that are learnt in each production, we consider it to be equivalent to a semester of drama lessons.
It often surprises people that the sale of tickets does not begin to cover the cost to mount a production. Even a simple play like ours, costs more than you think. The rent alone for a theatre/rehearsal space can be astronomical. Then you have the play rights, play scripts, set, costumes, props, publicity, workshop presenters, insurance, printing, photography, planning time and as mentioned, staffing costs. Unfortunately even professional companies often need to look for government support, grants or private sponsorship to make ends meet.
When it comes to community theatre however, it is completely different. Most people give their time for free – with some exceptions – and sometimes directors will receive an honorarium. Often cast and crew are asked to pay to join the company, which helps cover insurance. These companies often work on the smell of an oily rag, with some people giving up their time for months or even years. They are fabulous organisations, but often don't (or won't) work with children. And they cast experienced (often professionally trained) actors, who are proficient before they begin. These people usually work full time or are retired and participate for the pure joy of creating theatre magic. Or they were roped in at some point and just can't seem to get away! If you wanted to know more about community theatre, or even better - to get involved yourself, shout out. They'd love to have you.
I hope I've answered your questions here, but please get in touch or leave a comment if you'd like clarification.