Eileen

NYC Ballet Prices

241 posts in this topic

Good points. Sorry to hear the house is not filled which may have something to do with the house prices. Maybe NYCB should decrease prices in the house to 3rd and 4th ring prices and leave the 3rd and 4th rings alone. BTW the third ring is always full or near full on the days I attended. Do not know about the 4th ring but the few times I have sat there on single ticket purchase it was full too. I think that NYCB is going the way of all entities now, emulating for profit companies with shareholders, that is the changes happening in all nonprofit companies, education, health care etc. A business model that emphasizes the bottom line above all. Hope is that it can retain the spirit of adventure and risk taking with high level of choreography that its founders envisioned. Hard to do if profit reigns supreme, but not impossible, I hope. I wonder what Balanchine and Kirstein would have done? From what I read they always seemed to have unique perspectives when times got tough, like they are now economically (and for the theatre goers too, not just the NYCB).

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I took advantage of a discount program to get seats to black & white at $55. I know when repertoire is not going to sell at retail.

...I am curious just how well the Balanchine black and white week sold--and whether it sold at retail indeed. I had also assumed that the reason NYCB is scheduling more full length works is that those are the top sellers even if they are not the works I (and many fans) most want to see them dance.

When I read on this board that it's Swan Lake that's selling fabulously at NYCB, I have to ask if the audience really IS what it WAS at NYCB not when it comes to this or that individual (I consider myself an 'old timer' as would many on this board), but on the level of numbers that make a real economic difference to their bottom line.

That said, I think it is very unfortunate that the company has introduced such an abrupt change and caused such distress and anger; and it may not serve them well. I do think the issue is not profit, but sustainability on their current scale (size of company, length of seasons, range of repertory, production values, costs of State/Koch theater, pay-scale for dancers etc. etc. (I guess they might cut staff or staff pay w/o the audience noticing--much--but that's only a small percentage of costs). It has been a long time since this has been the City Center NYCB...but perhaps adjusting the scale would be a better solution than making it impossible for the less well-heeled to attend. It's hard for me to say since I don't know just how greatly it would have to be adjusted and I don't know what the contract issues are. And I remember the anguish when the company laid off a handful of dancers a few years ago.

In that context it's also hard for me to make a serious economic/marketing analysis of what the company is thinking (whether I would agree with it or not): perhaps, depending on what Dan Wakin can find out (probably not much), certain questions could be addressed: is the company's "loyal" audience all that loyal as a group or has it been dropping off in recent years anyway? Was a bigger audience in the expensive seats more or less subsidizing the cheap seats for years--and now, has that subsidy dropped so that the cheap seats are becoming harder and harder to sustain? Do they have hard data about where their audience is growing and does that play a role in the changes etc. etc.?

Regarding the Met: There may still be 'cheap' seats at the Met but I believe they are substantially further away (and I would say worse) than even the 4th ring at NYCB...much worse than the 3rd ring.

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Well, the Yanks may be the exception -- they sell out every game at home and often do on the road as well.

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Regarding the Met: There may still be 'cheap' seats at the Met but I believe they are substantially further away (and I would say worse) than even the 4th ring at NYCB...much worse than the 3rd ring.

Yes, they certainly are worse than any seats at the NYST, certainly further from the the stage. But at least there is a low cost option for the really cash-strapped.

Also, I wonder what impact this will have on standing room, we are talking about the extreme limit of the cash-challenged. Will that stuill be sold (I have to admit I'm still unclear if the prices have just been really raised on the 3rd and 4th ring or if they will be just not sold for certain perfomances.

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Regarding the Met: There may still be 'cheap' seats at the Met but I believe they are substantially further away (and I would say worse) than even the 4th ring at NYCB...much worse than the 3rd ring.

The Met's a peculiar place. The acoustics in the Family Circle (the uppermost ring) are actually splendid -- better, I think than in the front of the orchestra -- but the action on stage does look like it's taking place in a galaxy far, far away. It's not exactly an immersive theatrical experience, but I've enjoyed opera from up there. I can't imagine sitting there for the ballet, however.

I have no idea what NYCB is thinking. Do they save any money by closing down the top of the house? If not, why not let folks sit there? (I know I'd vastly prefer the front of the third ring to the back or sides of the second. But then I prefer the mid-back of the orchestra to the front, so I my seating preferences may be unusual.) A half-full house is a half-full house no matter how the audience is distributed.

The follow up subscription brochure I got does show pricing by section up through the second ring, but states that "new subscriptions are not currently available in Orchestra E or the 3rd and 4rth rings" and shows no pricing for those sections. Do they perhaps plan on transitioning subscribers further down into the house so that they can free up the top of the house for sales of much cheaper single tickets? In other words, if you want good cheap seats you have to take your chances with single ticket purchases -- you can't lock them in with a subscription.

During the recent contract negotiations, the dancers' representatives kept mentioning "the broken subscription model," but didn't say much about how it was broken. I'd love to know what they meant. Perhaps this latest tactic is a way of grappling with whatever the perceived problem is.

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...I am curious just how well the Balanchine black and white week sold--and whether it sold at retail indeed. I had also assumed that the reason NYCB is scheduling more full length works is that those are the top sellers even if they are not the works I (and many fans) most want to see them dance.

When I read on this board that it's Swan Lake that's selling fabulously at NYCB, I have to ask if the audience really IS what it WAS at NYCB not when it comes to this or that individual (I consider myself an 'old timer' as would many on this board), but on the level of numbers that make a real economic difference to their bottom line.

That sad, I think it is very unfortunate that the company has introduced such an abrupt change and caused such distress and anger; and it may not serve them well. I do think the issue is not profit, but sustainability on their current scale (size of company, length of seasons, range of repertory, production values, costs of State/Koch theater, pay-scale for dancers etc. etc. (I guess they might cut staff or staff pay w/o the audience noticing--much--but that's only a small percentage of costs). It has been a long time since this has been the City Center NYCB...but perhaps adjusting the scale would be a better solution than making it impossible for the less well-heeled to attend. It's hard for me to say since I don't know just how greatly it would have to be adjusted and I don't know what the contract issues are. And I remember the anguish when the company laid off a handful of dancers a few years ago.

I would mention that City Ballet is handling so many variables right now that can screw up their cost model.

For one thing, with the loss of City Opera at the Koch Theater, City Ballet is unsure of how much those costs may get shifted to them - and how many dates can be filled by other performing arts organizations to offset those costs. At least for this fall, the prospects are not good for filling dates that City Opera has vacated.

Second, even though they just completed contract negotiation with AGMA for the dancers, it is only for two years. In fact, they will have to commence negotiations for the new contract with the dancers once again in 2012.

All this fuels the uncertainty in their budgeting and forecasting. I would really like to know how many subscribers also are donors. Whether big or small, any contribution would be valued. It's usually the the 80/20 rule. If there were a broader base of donor support for NYCB, maybe they could strive for greater price stability in tickets.

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I do think the issue is not profit, but sustainability on their current scale (size of company, length of seasons, range of repertory, production values, costs of State/Koch theater, pay-scale for dancers etc. etc. (I guess they might cut staff or staff pay w/o the audience noticing--much--but that's only a small percentage of costs). It has been a long time since this has been the City Center NYCB...but perhaps adjusting the scale would be a better solution than making it impossible for the less well-heeled to attend. It's hard for me to say since I don't know just how greatly it would have to be adjusted and I don't know what the contract issues are. And I remember the anguish when the company laid off a handful of dancers a few years ago.

Your post gets at the true heart of the problem. As insulting and counterproductive as the price increases are, they are only a manifestation of the deep cost problems the company has. It is tied to a particular theater that it is having trouble filling on a nightly basis, it has very high labor costs, it maintains and presents a very large (and expensive) repertory, and it is committed to presenting new (and expensive) works. The nearest thing I can compare City Ballet to is M-G-M circa-1949. That was the year when the famous photo was taken of the studio's enormous roster of stars. But within five years, many of those stars were gone and the studio was contracting rapidly. One reason it contracted so rapidly was because its costs became too high to sustain.

In that context it's also hard for me to make a serious economic/marketing analysis of what the company is thinking (whether I would agree with it or not): perhaps, depending on what Dan Wakin can find out (probably not much), certain questions could be addressed: is the company's "loyal" audience all that loyal as a group or has it been dropping off in recent years anyway? Was a bigger audience in the expensive seats more or less subsidizing the cheap seats for years--and now, has that subsidy dropped so that the cheap seats are becoming harder and harder to sustain? Do they have hard data about where their audience is growing and does that play a role in the changes etc. etc.?

I can't answer your questions but I can offer my purely anecdotal view from attending the matinee performance of Jewels on June 11th. I was surprised to see that the audience (in addition to the almost complete lack of racial/ethnic diversity} was largely middle-aged or older -- the early 20s to early 40s cohort appeared to be entirely absent. Again, my observation is anecdotal and may be entirely unreflective of the "normal" attendee. But, if the audience at that matinee is reflective of the larger audience, then the company is not attracting a materially significant new audience to replace the current audience when -- forgive me -- it dies off.

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...I am curious just how well the Balanchine black and white week sold--and whether it sold at retail indeed. I had also assumed that the reason NYCB is scheduling more full length works is that those are the top sellers even if they are not the works I (and many fans) most want to see them dance.

At the three performances I saw that first week, and the matinee of the last day the theater was FULL. And enthusiastic. And very young.

I am aware that a very high percentage of audience members are middle-aged (like myself) and older. We are very aware that if the Company is to survive, they must reach a younger audience. The question is "how?"

For at least the last 10 years there have been "audience surveys" given out after performances, asking about the viewers' age, how long he or she has been coming, how many performances they attend per season. So the Company has all that information at its fingertips. The things that they have attempted to draw in new audiences (the casual photos this year, in the past years the extreme contortions on bus stops, etc.) don't seem to have worked. They keep switching marketing companies and doing whatever these people tell them to do -- and usually these companies have NO idea what ballet is about, and what would draw new people in. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Corporate hot-shots on the Board of Directors are behind these mis-guided efforts.

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The average age of ballet audiences seems considerably younger than opera audiences. They have played up as much as possible the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker is now on the NYCB Board. Her picture is in the press every time she attends a NYCB gala. This seems like part of their effort to attract a younger audience. Now if they could get Lady Gaga on the Board, that would be a coup.

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I have read SJP state that she was told that she had to do nothing to join the board, not even attend the meetings (I am paraphrasing). Apparently, her directorship was for the purpose of media attention. I have read elsewhere that directors must meet certain financial requirements, such as level of donations. I assume these criteria create many problems. Certainly, directors cannot fulfill their fiduciary obligations under the law by not overseeing decisionmaking and by failing to attend meetings. Allowing these statements to go public exposes the organization to further risk (much greater risk than twitter statements by dancers, under the social media policy). Maybe a competent, devoted, qualified board of directors, interested in nonprofit goals rather than vanity and social status, would advance the company's goals.

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I wouldn't be so hard on Parker, even with that statement. Her position may be low-effort, but it's similar to a "rainmaker" in a law firm; I assume she attracts attention and money.

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I wouldn't be so hard on Parker, even with that statement. Her position may be low-effort, but it's similar to a "rainmaker" in a law firm; I assume she attracts attention and money.

This. It's a great deal for both of them.

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I like SJP. (She kissed Misha on SATC and introduced the NYCB Workout, after all! And what a personality!) I have nothing wrong with her affiliation with the company or her position on the board of directors. But as a director, she exposes herself to liability if she does not perform her fiduciary duties, and she exposes the company to harm. I certainly would not publicly make such a comment, either. If she wants to be on the board, then she has legal obligations. If she wants to just support the company without the burden of board duties, she could have other roles. I think some people on this board could contribute much to the board of directors even if they lack financial resources. Maybe I am hopelessly naive....

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Thank you abatt. I had just read the article. I don't know quite what to make of it. They want to fill the orchestra, 1st and 2nd rings before opening up sales for the rest of the house. If they open up the 3rd and 4th ring, those tickets will not be as cheap as they had been. There was also talk about prices changing as time goes on.

I don't know quite what to make of it all. I love rows A & B of the fourth ring. If I understand correctly, I won't be able to buy those unless it is a performance that is selling extremely well, and then those tickets will be more expensive then they had been.

If anyone has more clarification I would appreciate it. For me, I guess I'll be going fewer times and being more selective.

I guess NYCB is experimenting with ways to stay alive. I don't blame them for that.

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What a ridiculous puff piece by The New York Times. They must be desperate not to lose City Ballet's advertising revenue.

By closing the 3rd and 4th Rings, City Ballet is eliminating nearly 1000 seats from their inventory: 676 in the 4th Ring, 278 non-obstructed-view seats in the 3rd Ring and 26 obstructed-view seats in the 3rd Ring, a total of 980 seats. (I used the seating charts on lincolncenter.org). They are basically saying they can't sell more than 1500 seats to any performance except Nutcracker and Swan Lake. They should be worried.

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The article focuses on the "ire" of fourth-ringers and that we're "burning mad." I'm not so mad. I'm just sad. Really sad.

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To inform the conversation, per the NYCB website, I found a link to their annual reports, the most recent is 2009. Revenues are reported as follows:

46% Performance Ticket Sales & Tour Fees

36% Public Support (see below)

15% Investment Income / Foundation earnings

3% Other income (this is usually merchandise sales, etc)

The public support slice of the pie is subsequently broken down as follows:

44% Individual Donations

17% Special Events

12% Foundations donations

8% Government support

6% Estates & Trusts

Expenses are broken down as follows:

69% Production Costs

10% Administration (most executive directors / artistic director salaries are included in this slice)

8% Facility Expenses

7% Production Management Expenses

6% Public Support Expenses

Another Interesting Numbers:

206 total performances

NEA listed as a donor in the 75k - 99k category

60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl is in the 50k - 74k category

The MSNBC's Money Honey Maria Bartiromo, Macy's Foundation, Hon. Kimba Wood (would be Supreme) and ELLE Magazine are in the 25k - 49k category

Chanel, Inc is in the 15k - 24k category

Walt Disney Company in the 10k - 14k category

I could not find Ms. Parker listed as a donor, although she could have donated anonymously in 2009. I hope this information is enlightening.

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I love how they called Fourth Ringers the "bleacher bums."

Anyhow, FYI, the percent of house sold for the 2010-2011 season was approximately 68%.

What would be really interesting to know is how, on average, an all-Balanchine program sells in comparison to, say, a program of Thou Swell, 2&3 Part Inventions and Mercurial Manoeuvers.

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What would be really interesting to know is how, on average, an all-Balanchine program sells in comparison to, say, a program of Thou Swell, 2&3 Part Inventions and Mercurial Manoeuvers.

Even more to the part, how would an "all Martins" program sell?

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They have never dared to do all Martins. The house would be empty. Obviously, most All Balanchine programs sell well.

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I wonder where labor would be included under expenses? (Also, marketing)...

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What would be really interesting to know is how, on average, an all-Balanchine program sells in comparison to, say, a program of Thou Swell, 2&3 Part Inventions and Mercurial Manoeuvers.

Even more to the part, how would an "all Martins" program sell?

Clever pun!

They have never dared to do all Martins. The house would be empty.

Much like the residents of Tokyo fleeing Godzilla!

In all seriousness, though, the sales disparities between programs highlights an underlying problem this company has: It wants to be seen as an engine of choroegraphic initiative but the audience itself is perfectly content to watch old Balanchine favorites and dreary productions of the great story ballets. (Do all Robbins bills sell well???)

I wonder where labor would be included under expenses? (Also, marketing)...

I assumed labor fell in the production costs category.

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They have never dared to do all Martins. The house would be empty. Obviously, most All Balanchine programs sell well.

But isn't this pretty much an elephant sitting in the room? There are obviously budget issues that are challenging to solve but nothing, nothing, nothing seems to impede the relentless procession of "new Martins ballets" that it seems no one is interested in seeing.

I don't know, I'm only guessing, but I wonder if Martins' published salary DOES NOT INCLUDE commissions and royalties for this junk?

To make matters worse, now we seem to have a "lighter version" of this Martins procession. It's called "new Millepeid ballets".

I understand the need and importance of new choreography, but ,sorry, NYCB could take the money they spend on these projects, put it in a pile, douse it with gasoline and through a match into it. It would be a more efficent way of disposing of the cash and they coyuld use the rehearsal time for stuff audiences would buy tickets to see.

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