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NYC Ballet PricesAudience Member Goes on Strike


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#16 bart

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 04:24 AM

Tickets are inexpensive until a certain number of seats have filled... And then they get progressively more expensive as the bus fills

This sounds like the opposite of what arts organizations, including ballet companies, are doing.

They acknowledge that they need subscribers for income before the season begins; they use the subscriber base for incessant fund-raising; they claim to value the input of subscribers when it comes to programming.

On the other hand it seems that the earlier one buys his or her tickets, the higher the price.

I am a lifelong subscriber and am also programmed to order tickets as early as possible. I doubt that I will chance this pattern at this stage of my life. But I know quite a few people who have stopped doing this. They feeling that they are somehow being taken advantage of. No one wants to be perceived as a lazy or naive consumer.

Since it is not always easy for people to take advantage of last minute deals, these people have tended to reduce their attendance at ballet and opera.

I don't know how significant this pattern is in terms of dollars and percentages. But I have observed it happening with greater frequency over the past decade.

#17 puppytreats

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 05:40 AM

I think those who set prices and make other presumptions tend to err. More than once, I have read about a ballerina told to play for the fan in the last row, because that is where the true fan sits; only a true fan would forego anything to use his last penny to sit in the last row. I have heard similar discussions about fans of musicians, who bring fans from the last row to the front row, on the assumption that they really want to be there but have the misfortune of buying cheap ticket. However, I have saved my money by sacrificing other less important things in order to have sufficient funds to sit as close as possible for the performances that really matter to me. For example, I may want to see three different leads in a ballet, but I would rather see one performance from the front row sitting in a more expensive seat. I may want to see ten bands play during the year, but I save my money to see my favorite band in the front row; I do not spread my money over ten events and get bad seats to each. I also do not waste money on other entertainment or clothing. I will use the library or wear the same old clothes each year. This way, I can pay for my $150 front row ticket. How can the ballerina then say that her real fan is the one in the back row, when this person may have attended ten different events without her and bought into every new fashion trend of the season, and has only $20 left for a ticket, or waited to the last minute because she did not decide if she wanted to go until the day of the performance arrived and she had nothing better to do, and only a last row seat is left? My point is that the people who buy tickets early are a mix of true fans needing to feel safe and obtain the best seats early, whatever the price, and those who for social or business reasons buy a subscription. We pay a premium for the risk that the performer will be injured. We are forbidden to trade or return tickets on the day of the performance, so we pay for this risk, too. We can take a chance of buying cheaper seats at the TKTS booth or from a scalper, but we may not be able to obtain a ticket, and this is generally a risk we do not want to endure. Subscriptions offer certain types of discounts over a series of tickets, but greater discounts seem to be available on the day of the performance, if the risk is tolerable. Those who would seek subscriptions as fans would not generally endure the risk. That is why we are being gouged. The people who are not true fans would tend to make more cost-based decisions, and this is where I think the audience is being lost.

#18 Eileen

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 06:34 AM

"I only know I will miss it intensely."

I wrote that yesterday. I have lost love, lost spaghetti and lost creamy cookies, and lost weight. The love I missed intensely eventually turned to indifference as I rebuilt my life. The spaghetti and creamy cookies I don't miss at all, as I have lost a lot of weight. My point is, intensely missing something is a temporary reaction to loss, and I will temporarily miss NYC Ballet. Then loss will turn to indifference as I take up new activities.

I look forward to hearing from the executives of NYCBallet to my quite temperate letter about the Strike.

#19 puppytreats

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 08:22 AM

"I only know I will miss it intensely."

I wrote that yesterday. I have lost love, lost spaghetti and lost creamy cookies, and lost weight. The love I missed intensely eventually turned to indifference as I rebuilt my life. The spaghetti and creamy cookies I don't miss at all, as I have lost a lot of weight. My point is, intensely missing something is a temporary reaction to loss, and I will temporarily miss NYC Ballet. Then loss will turn to indifference as I take up new activities.

I look forward to hearing from the executives of NYCBallet to my quite temperate letter about the Strike.


Not always, Eileen. Love endures death. Hasn't ballet taught that?

Not all loss turns to indifference. The pain remains, though dulled.

BTW, what exactly are creamy cookies?

#20 abatt

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 09:28 AM

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.


Most of NYCB's audience, I believe, is repeat customers who have been attending for years or decades. NYCB has 16 weeks of rep tickets to sell, 7 performances per week. That's a whole lot of tickets to unload to customers who have seen most of these ballets numerous times in the past. Also, opera prices should not be compared to ballet. Opera tickets have always cost considerably more than ballet because people will pay top dollar to see world class singers. I don't think people will pay these super inflated prices for the numerous weak programs at NYCB. It should be interesting to see how empty the high priced seating sections are at NYCB. Me thinks there will be lots of discounted tickets floating around for programs that are heavy on the junky ballets. Hopefully whoever dreamed up this ludicrous system of charging as much for fourth ring tickets as for the orchestra will be fired within a year or so. I won't boycott, but I will be there much less frequently than I used to be. Also, I'm the type of person who needs to have my schedule arranged well in advance. It is more likely that I would just head home or to a movie after work than make a trip to the Atrium to buy a discounted ticket on the day of the performance.

#21 christine174

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 10:18 AM

This is in response to puppytreats, who suggests that people who pay less for tickets and sit in the back, are not "true" ballet fans. Au contraire!
I am someone who has newly discovered NYCB, and in my thrill, verging on euphoria, I attended many, many performances over the past six weeks. I had been planning to attend several nights a week for the upcoming season. It hadn't occurred to me that Fourth Ring Society might be discontinued. I am not rich, or even all that well off. Ballet and the occasional opera constitute virtually the entirety of my discretionary budget. I don't need to sit close to the stage in order to get deep satisfaction from a performance. Fourth ring are not "bad seats" to me. I certainly have my favorite dancers, but so many dancers at NYCB are so good that I'm really happy to see almost anyone. I just want to see ballet, Balanchine ballet and Balanchine dancers. I am happy to buy in advance based on programming. Then I can check out the casting when it's posted and add in any desired performances that I'm not already holding a ticket for (anything with Teresa Reichlen, for example, or if Ashley Bouder and Taylor Stanley do "Square Dance" again). That was the plan, and I have been eagerly anticipating it. Now this about 4th Ring being discontinued. That is really crushing. I know ballet is expensive, what with the dancers, musicians, house costs, etc, etc. I'm very sympathetic to that, and I wish the government did more to support the arts here. But from a personal standpoint, I had anticipated so much joy from so many performances, and now that is being severely curtailed. It's very sad.

#22 abatt

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 10:48 AM

This is in response to puppytreats, who suggests that people who pay less for tickets and sit in the back, are not "true" ballet fans. Au contraire!

Have to agree. Some of the most dedicated fans sit up in the fourth ring. Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you are less of a fan than someone who sits in the orchestra. By the way, I think the orchestra is the worst section from which to watch ballet.

#23 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 10:53 AM


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.


Most of NYCB's audience, I believe, is repeat customers who have been attending for years or decades. There are only a few Yankees games per season in New York, whereas NYCB has 16 weeks of rep tickets to sell, 7 performances per week. That's a whole lot of tickets to unload to customers who have seen most of these ballets numerous times in the past.


The Yankees, like all major league baseball teams, play 162 games in a regular season, half of which are at home and all of which are televised. Yankee Stadium seats 50,000 (52,000 if you count standing room), so I don't think scarcity really explains the ticket prices at Yankee stadium. Even a seat at the tip-top of the grandstand will set you back $30.

The sad fact is, live events are expensive -- even when a lucrative television contract provides a substantial subsidy!

Although ... you can see some mighty fine dance (and bona-fide downtown dance stars) for next-to-nothing at venues like Dance Theater Workshop or, for a little bit more than next-to-nothing, at venues like the Joyce. You'll likely get recorded music and minimal sets and costumes, and yes, sometimes the choreography is just plain awful. But it can be just plain awful at Lincoln Center too ...

#24 puppytreats

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 11:47 AM

d Today, 10:48 AM


christine174, on 19 June 2011 - 02:18 PM, said:


This is in response to puppytreats, who suggests that people who pay less for tickets and sit in the back, are not "true" ballet fans. Au contraire!


_- said "Have to agree. Some of the most dedicated fans sit up in the fourth ring. Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you are less of a fan than someone who sits in the orchestra. By the way, I think the orchestra is the worst section from which to watch ballet. "

RESPONSE:


I am getting ready to stop posting on these boards because everything I say gets twisted. In this case, I did not say that fans in the last row are not the true fans. I said the assumption that the true fans only are in the back is false. When I was young, I had very little money - not even enough for food. I saved money, worked extra jobs, and then stayed on line for three days (at an additional cost, due to lost time at work and school) to obtain tickets to see my favorite band. I made sacrifices to get my ticket. The person in the last row did not make the same sacrifices. When I started working full time, I could not make the same time sacrifices, but knew that I could not get a good ticket without waiting on line, so I paid a large premium to a scalper to obtain the best possible seats. I sacrificed other things to have the money to pay the premium. Therefore, to put someone in the last row in a seat in front of me, on the assumption that the person in the last row was a poor but more interested or dedicated viewer, was inaccurate. The ballerina who is taught that people in the front are not true fans is being misdirected. I obtained my front row seat or my orchestra seat by making choices and placing a priority on the orchestra seat in lieu of other things on which I could spend my money. I made sure I called the theatre as soon as tickets went on sale so I could obtain the best seat available, making choices as to my schedule on the day I had to buy tickets. The sacrifices and choices I made may not have been made by someone with a last row ticket. Therefore, having a last row ticket does not demonstrate devotion. (It does not demonstrate a lack of devotion, either. If you take it that way, you are misinterpreting me.)

#25 Eileen

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 12:17 PM

BTW, what exactly are creamy cookies?

I was referring, inexactly, to the cookies served at office functions with cookie on the bottom and lemon or chocolate filling and a twist of cream on top. Don't get me started!

#26 Eileen

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 12:20 PM

I am getting ready to stop posting on these boards because everything I say gets twisted. In this case, I did not say that fans in the last row are not the true fans. I said the assumption that the true fans only are in the back is false. When I was young, I had very little money - not even enough for food. I saved money, worked extra jobs, and then stayed on line for three days (at an additional cost, due to lost time at work and school) to obtain tickets to see my favorite band. I made sacrifices to get my ticket. The person in the last row did not make the same sacrifices. When I started working full time, I could not make the same time sacrifices, but knew that I could not get a good ticket without waiting on line, so I paid a large premium to a scalper to obtain the best possible seats. I sacrificed other things to have the money to pay the premium. Therefore, to put someone in the last row in a seat in front of me, on the assumption that the person in the last row was a poor but more interested or dedicated viewer, was inaccurate. The ballerina who is taught that people in the front are not true fans is being misdirected. I obtained my front row seat or my orchestra seat by making choices and placing a priority on the orchestra seat in lieu of other things on which I could spend my money. I made sure I called the theatre as soon as tickets went on sale so I could obtain the best seat available, making choices as to my schedule on the day I had to buy tickets. The sacrifices and choices I made may not have been made by someone with a last row ticket. Therefore, having a last row ticket does not demonstrate devotion. (It does not demonstrate a lack of devotion, either. If you take it that way, you are misinterpreting me.)

Please do continue to post. I understand your position perfectly. Everyone has different priorities and it's mistaken to think someone in a poor seat is more devoted than someone in the front row.

#27 christine174

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 12:45 PM

Puppytreats please don't stop posting. I have felt my words were twisted too so I know how you feel. I understand your point better now. Perhaps we could agree that where one sits has no bearing on one's degree of fan-dom. Ardent ballet fans are all over the house front and back.
I just know that my ballet budget can't be extended any further, so if prices go up in the fourth ring I will be at that many fewer performances and there will be an empty seat where there could have been one very happy balletgoer.

#28 susanger

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 04:13 PM

"I only know I will miss it intensely."

I wrote that yesterday. I have lost love, lost spaghetti and lost creamy cookies, and lost weight. The love I missed intensely eventually turned to indifference as I rebuilt my life. The spaghetti and creamy cookies I don't miss at all, as I have lost a lot of weight. My point is, intensely missing something is a temporary reaction to loss, and I will temporarily miss NYC Ballet. Then loss will turn to indifference as I take up new activities.

I look forward to hearing from the executives of NYCBallet to my quite temperate letter about the Strike.


Don't hold your breath waiting for that reply. I mailed a letter to Karen Girty, Director of Marketing, with a copy to Peter Martins, on June 2 and have not received a response yet. I mailed a copy of the same letter to Katherine Brown on June 15. I also e-mailed Kate Taylor at the NY Times after she wrote her Arts, Briefly item about the new prices. She's curious about whether or not subscribers are renewing.

#29 Eileen

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 04:45 PM

Don't hold your breath waiting for that reply. I mailed a letter to Karen Girty, Director of Marketing, with a copy to Peter Martins, on June 2 and have not received a response yet. I mailed a copy of the same letter to Katherine Brown on June 15. I also e-mailed Kate Taylor at the NY Times after she wrote her Arts, Briefly item about the new prices. She's curious about whether or not subscribers are renewing.


I will contact Daniel Wakin at the Times tomorrow and ask if he'd like to do a column on audience reaction to the new pricing policy. This thread already has almost a thousand views, which shows a lot of interest in the subject. He would be able to interview City Ballet executives.

#30 abatt

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 04:58 PM

Puppytreats please don't stop posting.

Ardent ballet fans are all over the house front and back.
I just know that my ballet budget can't be extended any further, so if prices go up in the fourth ring I will be at that many fewer performances and there will be an empty seat where there could have been one very happy balletgoer.

Hi puppytreats. Don't stop posting. The only point we were trying to make is that committed fans sometimes have poor seating locations. Thank you for clarifying your point.


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