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NYC Ballet PricesAudience Member Goes on Strike


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#1 Eileen

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:39 AM

New York City Ballet is my passion and I attend as frequently as possible during the season. I picked up the subscription brochure for next season today - and I was shocked at the price increases. I can't subscribe at the savings due to family obligations, so I buy close to the date.

In reaction to the City Ballet price increases, I have decided, after serious consideration, to go on strike as an audience member. At first I thought this would be a "ballet diet" - meaning seeing less. But that's not enough to express my deep disapproval of the price increases. Instead, I am going on strike. I will not attend next season AT ALL unless I can get a meaningful discount, either through the Atrium or some other manner.

I am not stepping up to the box office and paying $149 for the best seats, and I am not going to sit in the 4th ring at this stage of my life.

I am going on strike, I am rebuffing City Ballet based on their cavalier expectation that their audience will pay the higher charges. This one will not.

What's your opinion? I'm writing to NYC Ballet management to express my rejection of their pricing policies and to announce my Strike of One. Does anyone want to join me?

#2 Jayne

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 12:57 PM

ticket prices rarely cover all of the ballet company's expenses. Sometimes they don't even cover 50%. The difference is covered by individual donors and corporate donors. I deduce that NYCB has received fewer donations during the 2010 / 2011 season, and therefore must charge more in ticket prices to make up the difference in 2011/2012 season.

If not for private and corporate donors, your seats would probably be in the $300 range, which is what one would pay to go see a major rock n roll or R&B concert with a good seat. I had to pass on tickets to see Britain's national treasure Adele in concert, because the only remaining tickets were $269 each.

A ballet performance includes upwards of 50 dancers, 50 musicians, a conductor, lighting technicians, stage hands, licensing fees, stage managers, theatre facility rental, ushers, and others to pay. It is not the cheapest form of entertainment, and prices will never approach what we pay for cinema tickets.

If money is a serious issue, I recommend that you go to the Ballet in Cinema performances to get your "fix" of high art, and otherwise try to support local groups that perform Balanchine but are less expensive. I believe if you go to the Balanchine Trust website, they have a calendar of upcoming performances of their works, and there will be opportunities to see Balanchine works, located within a 3 hour driving radius of New York.

#3 Eileen

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 01:06 PM

ticket prices rarely cover all of the ballet company's expenses. Sometimes they don't even cover 50%. The difference is covered by individual donors and corporate donors. I deduce that NYCB has received fewer donations during the 2010 / 2011 season, and therefore must charge more in ticket prices to make up the difference in 2011/2012 season.

If not for private and corporate donors, your seats would probably be in the $300 range, which is what one would pay to go see a major rock n roll or R&B concert with a good seat. I had to pass on tickets to see Britain's national treasure Adele in concert, because the only remaining tickets were $269 each.

A ballet performance includes upwards of 50 dancers, 50 musicians, a conductor, lighting technicians, stage hands, licensing fees, stage managers, theatre facility rental, ushers, and others to pay. It is not the cheapest form of entertainment, and prices will never approach what we pay for cinema tickets.

If money is a serious issue, I recommend that you go to the Ballet in Cinema performances to get your "fix" of high art, and otherwise try to support local groups that perform Balanchine but are less expensive. I believe if you go to the Balanchine Trust website, they have a calendar of upcoming performances of their works, and there will be opportunities to see Balanchine works, located within a 3 hour driving radius of New York.


Ballet is expensive, and the salaries paid to Peter Martins and the Executive Director could use some paring. Martins is paid over $600,000. He'd better butter up the donors, because the middle class is being priced out of his company performances. It's a good idea to go to Pennsylvania Ballet for Balanchine in Philadelphia. I intend to from time to time report on my strike, on my correspondence with company executives and on any responses. I feel very close to the dancers in this company, having watched them grow from Nutcracker to principal, but I cannot finance the exorbitant costs of City Ballet. NYCB should renegotiate with its unions and pare the salaries of its executives and artistic directors. More on the strike as the year progresses.

#4 miliosr

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 01:42 PM

He'd better butter up the donors, because the middle class is being priced out of his company performances.

On my recent trip to New York, I was shocked to find that a ticket for a matinee performance of Jewels was $112. If I lived in New York and made my current salary, I would never be able to go.

#5 Rock

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 01:48 PM

Jayne's response is wise. It's easy to overlook all those hidden expenses. And Eileen doesn't mention dancer salaries. The NYCB has 24 principal dancers. They're probably paid at varying rates, but let's say they make 200K each - that's an expense of 4.8M a year just for the principals.

#6 vipa

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 02:07 PM


He'd better butter up the donors, because the middle class is being priced out of his company performances.

On my recent trip to New York, I was shocked to find that a ticket for a matinee performance of Jewels was $112. If I lived in New York and made my current salary, I would never be able to go.



If you live in NYC or are visiting and willing to take a chance, check out the Atrium for discount tickets. I've gotten half price tickets there for NYCB a few times. They don't have every performance but I've had good luck.

#7 Ray

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 02:18 PM

If you live in NYC or are visiting and willing to take a chance, check out the Atrium for discount tickets. I've gotten half price tickets there for NYCB a few times. They don't have every performance but I've had good luck.


I've seen them at TKTS too.

#8 Eileen

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 05:49 PM

I've seen them at TKTS too.


I am sure that many repertory programs will be discounted at the Atrium now. Especially the mediocre "premiers" that are so ballyhooed, and turn out to be such disappointments. Partly what is weighing down City Ballet is its commitment to dismal new choreography. The much marketed Calatrava-designed ballets of last year - none were interesting except for Ratmansky's Namouna Divertissements. And these are expensive productions and I'm sure the choreographers are highly paid. I am aware of what it costs to do ballet at this level, but I do not think a recounting of the company's expenses is "wise". It is well known to anyone who follows cultural news. In the end, it does not pay for my ballet tickets, but artificially keeps prices inflated. My point is many of the costs are avoidable. This "strike" may be a blessimg in that it will give me a breather from familiar ballet repertory and allow me to experience new forms of art, and return to reading and learning.

#9 Waelsung

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 01:08 AM

New York City Ballet is my passion and I attend as frequently as possible during the season. I picked up the subscription brochure for next season today - and I was shocked at the price increases. I can't subscribe at the savings due to family obligations, so I buy close to the date.

In reaction to the City Ballet price increases, I have decided, after serious consideration, to go on strike as an audience member. At first I thought this would be a "ballet diet" - meaning seeing less. But that's not enough to express my deep disapproval of the price increases. Instead, I am going on strike. I will not attend next season AT ALL unless I can get a meaningful discount, either through the Atrium or some other manner.

I am not stepping up to the box office and paying $149 for the best seats, and I am not going to sit in the 4th ring at this stage of my life.

I am going on strike, I am rebuffing City Ballet based on their cavalier expectation that their audience will pay the higher charges. This one will not.

What's your opinion? I'm writing to NYC Ballet management to express my rejection of their pricing policies and to announce my Strike of One. Does anyone want to join me?


I'm with you 100%. I will completely boycott the NYCB performances next year, and I think that my attendance of ABT will be severely curtailed after this season, too. Everybody who follows ballet knows how expensive it is to mount a first-rate production with marquee names, but ABT now charges $140 for prime orchestra seats (admittedly, some performances with top-tier guest dancers only) that cost $100 a couple of years ago. My income does not go up 20% a year, why should ABT's? NYCB doesn't even invite international stars, so their price hike is even less justified IMHO.

#10 Eileen

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 05:31 AM


New York City Ballet is my passion and I attend as frequently as possible during the season. I picked up the subscription brochure for next season today - and I was shocked at the price increases. I can't subscribe at the savings due to family obligations, so I buy close to the date.

In reaction to the City Ballet price increases, I have decided, after serious consideration, to go on strike as an audience member. At first I thought this would be a "ballet diet" - meaning seeing less. But that's not enough to express my deep disapproval of the price increases. Instead, I am going on strike. I will not attend next season AT ALL unless I can get a meaningful discount, either through the Atrium or some other manner.

I am not stepping up to the box office and paying $149 for the best seats, and I am not going to sit in the 4th ring at this stage of my life.

I am going on strike, I am rebuffing City Ballet based on their cavalier expectation that their audience will pay the higher charges. This one will not.

What's your opinion? I'm writing to NYC Ballet management to express my rejection of their pricing policies and to announce my Strike of One. Does anyone want to join me?


I'm with you 100%. I will completely boycott the NYCB performances next year, and I think that my attendance of ABT will be severely curtailed after this season, too. Everybody who follows ballet knows how expensive it is to mount a first-rate production with marquee names, but ABT now charges $140 for prime orchestra seats (admittedly, some performances with top-tier guest dancers only) that cost $100 a couple of years ago. My income does not go up 20% a year, why should ABT's? NYCB doesn't even invite international stars, so their price hike is even less justified IMHO.


You are brave. A Strike of Two Audience Members. Thank you.

#11 nysusan

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 07:24 AM

Ballet has always been expensive to produce and I don't believe the box office has ever covered costs - this is not something new. Ticket prices at ABT are on the high end, but have remained relatively stable. But what's going on at City Ballet is a huge change in direction. They are raising prices considerably all over the house, but especially in the 4th ring.

The pricing listed in the brochure their subscribers received was unclear which necessitated many calls to the box office. When you speak to a representative you are told that "they would like their patrons to enjoy a more intimate experience so they want to fill the house from the bottom up". They are discounting certain seats in the extreme sides of the orchestra, 1st & 2nd ring, but are now charging $49 for 4th ring side arm tickets (AAs), $89 for 4th ring side sections and $100 (or maybe it was $120) for Rows A&B and the center section all the way up to the top! These seats used to cost $30 and were $15 with a 4th Ring Society membership. PS - they are not accepting new subscriptions for the 3rd & 4th rings and have said that they do not expect to offer 4th Ring Society memberships next season.

City Ballet has spent years educating & cultivating their audience. In a time when arts organizations are trying to find ways to build a loyal, engaged audience they have done an exemplary job - and now they're throwing it all away.

Not only will NYCB not increase their revenue with this scheme, they will lose their audience. It's happening already. I go to NYCB 3-5 times a week and see a lot of people there night after night. Everyone I've spoken to since this new pricing scheme came out is outraged. Most are not boycotting, and neither will I. But everyone I've spoken to - whether they sit in the orchestra or 4th ring - has decided to reduce the number of performances they will see next season to compensate for the price increase. I know someone who had 5 subscriptions in the orchestra for many years - he's reduced that to 3 in a less expensive section. Most 4th ring subscribers that I know have refused to move down to the lower rings. They're paying the new prices but reducing the number of their subscriptions.

I'm sure that there will be discounted tickets available but what I don't think NYCB realizes is that their core audience is not going to wait till the day of performance to see if they can score a cheap(er) seat. Nor will they spend all of their newly free nights sitting at home on their couches. This is NYC - there are lots of cultural events going on every day of the week and we are often forced to chose between several options on the same night. We will find different companies to attend and our loyalty to NYCB will be even further diminished.

#12 bart

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 07:27 AM

There was a time, when advance subscriptions were touted as a way to save money. Now the faithful subscriber, who pays almost top dollar, might have reason to feel like a chump. Not everyone has a schedule that allows for constant research and last-minute purchases.

I wonder how subscriptions are doing, as opposed to single-performance sales?

#13 Eileen

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 01:08 PM

I wonder, too. I just wanted to mention now that I've had a chance to think out the implications of my Strike, that every time a performance takes place that I would have wanted to attend, I will deposit the amount of the ticket in my savings account. When my savings reach an appropriate amount, I will add them to my IRA or 401(k). It will be interesting to see what I've been spending on ballet. I only know I will miss it intensely.

#14 Slant

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 08:08 PM

Let's see. Premium orchestra seats at the Met can go for more than $200-300 depending on location. Lower box seats at a Yankees game go for more than that. Top tickets to Wicked are over $300 at the box office. Other top broadway show orchestra seats run $150-175. So the most expensive ticket at City Ballet goes for $119 for a subscriber, or $149 for single sale. Considering all that, I feel City Ballet is a good investment for seeing a world-renown performing arts company.

I subscribe to the center orchestra and am willing to pay some more per ticket to ensure that this company remains viable. I know not everyone can afford the prices and people will have to make adjustments to how often they go.

It's a tough call but we will have to see the impact. I am sure the company will be watching it closely to determine the net effect. No one wants to play to a.smaller house

#15 Amy Reusch

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 09:35 PM

It's a shame for such a company to ever dance for empty seats... I suppose I would bankrupt a company in no time, but if it were me, I'd focus on filling seats before upping prices. I'd rather see innovations like the sort megabus.com uses to fill deats on its busses... Tickets are inexpensive until a certain number of seats have filled... And then they get progressively more expensive as the bus fills... Don't we have the technology to do this in theaters yet? It's sort of how the scalpers make a profit, isn't it? Less audience in seats leads to less audience...leads to less audience... Leads to less audience and less funding. Maybe NYCB is looking forward to the return to feudalism and single patron sponsorship. How much does Mr.. Koch like ballet after all? He got Kevin & Peter mixed up n December.


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