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Still MORE on art and audiences

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#16 Alexandra


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Posted 09 August 2003 - 03:22 PM

Lots of interesting points here -- thank you! I think Leigh is right when he points to the pitfalls of charging lower prices. If you're a subscriber paying, say, $50 a ticket, you might not be pleased to learn that the person sitting next to you paid only $30. BUT if a company is really in trouble -- 50, 60% houses, say -- then they often get desperate and raise ticket prices to cover costs, which could reduce the houses to 40%. In that case, I think it would be worth it to try lowering prices.

A student rush idea that the Washington Ballet used to do in the early 80s was very popular: $1 general admission tickets. They danced in Lisner Auditorium, then, which has a combination of very flat orchestra seats (bad sight lines) and a very steep, bleacher-like "balcony." The student rush tickets were at the top of the balcony and 1 minute before curtain, you could "rush" down and take any seat in the house. Added a bit of sport to the occasion.

Mark, I think it does go beyond just the prices, though -- and sports events and rock concerts are proof of that, I agree. I do think the audience age varies. Two anecdotes. First, I remember reading in the late 1970s an article that said, almost in passing, that NYCB was worried because the average age (or median, can't remember) of its subscribers was 55. I've read that same number several times in the last year as the average age of this or that company's subscribers. (My line for that is "There's a new crop of 55-year-olds every year." Maybe they should do some Freshman Class initiation ceremony when you turn 55?)

Another anecdote. I'm doing the second half of Ballet Alert's preview section now, and talking to press and other company people. One person connected with a company in a "market" where there are a lot of 55-plusers, and whose subscription base has grown over the past two years, said that actually the audience was more young people. The older ones don't come -- and this is a company that does not have a pop repertory. Washington Ballet, too, has increased its subscriber base since Septime Webre has taken over, and has been attracting younger audiences, although it IS doing a lot of contemporary and pop work, and I think they would like to attract older audiences, too. So it gets complicated.

I also think the Fourth Ring Society is a great idea :thumbsup:

#17 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 05:19 PM

I love the 4th Ring Society (I've been a member for years) - but that's a development concept, not a revenue concept. Going from subscription prices, an orchestra seat is $70, 4RS seats are $12. You need to sell nearly six fourth ring society tickets to make the revenue of one orchestra seat. There aren't six fourth ring tickets for every orchestra seat. If you're trying to keep the doors open, where would you put your efforts? Also, for balletomanes, we're asking for a discount, but we'd pay more if we had to. I look with gratitude at the 4RS deal at NYCB - but without that deal I'd buy standing room instead, and they could raise the price by at least 50% before I'd cut back.

Alexandra's point about increasing prices sometimes decreasing revenue is valid (Would they sell enough extra orchestra seats at $65 to make up the loss of per ticket revenue?) and the steep discounts on less desireable seats is as well. The Fourth Ring is both the devoted audience and in some cases future orchestra ticket buyers (that's the ostensible point, but it also subsidizes balletomanes as well) it's just that we're not the ones paying anybody's salary. Producing a concert right now, I can tell you that no matter what your artistic goals are, the bottom line is always visible, and I sympathize with anyone who's trying to produce revenue through ticket sales.

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