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Historical perspective on ticket prices?


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Has there been a study mounted... or does anyone here know...

Have ticket prices gone up (adjusted for inflation?)

The recent wildly successful sell-out performances at City Center's dance festival made me wonder if one of the reasons dance popularity has plummetted is the cost of tickets.

I have no idea if tickets are more "expensive" now than they were 30, 50, 70, 100 years ago.

It seems the cost of labor must surely have gone up (thank heavens in some cases; those unions were truly justified)....

Have there ever been "matching grants" to subsidize ticket sales?

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I would think they've gone up -- and so have the "handling charges." My gosh! Last spring when I called to purchase Houston Ballet tickets, I was told there would be a $7.50 handling fee per ticket for phone orders (I think that's the right amount -- could even have been more.) Okay, I said, I'll order on the internet. Same thing. Hmm... how about driving 45 minutes to the box office?? Oh, that I could do for the bargain price of only a $5 handling fee. Give me a break.

Sorry for the rant....

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I think they have gone up drastically, and for me the success of the Fall for Dance festival demonstrates what a devastating effect that has had on attendance. Those tickets sold out 95% within HOURS. Meanwhile, the gallery has been empty at every ABT performance except this afternoon, where it looks like they brought in a busload or 2 of kids.

Why don't they sell those gallery seats at $10 bucks each. Wouldn't the advantage of building an audience and creating the impression of a full house outweight any other consideration? I doubt that it would have a negative financial impact, nobody who can afford a better seat is going to buy a gallery ticket but lots of people who love dance just can't aford it. Tickets to live performances have always been relatively expensive, but I recall as a kid being able to buy $5 student rush tickets to ABT at the State Theater in the 70s. I certainly wouldn't have been able to see the company often without that discount, and who knows if I would have turned into the life long fan that I have become.

If I was young and/or poor now I would hardly ever be able to see ABT but you can bet I'd join the 4th ring society every year & you'd see me there on a regular basis. To NYCB's credit, that's long term thinking.

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I also remember the $5 student rush tix for NYCB. During Balanchine's lifetime, there were always tickets that cost rougly the same as movie tickets. With flix now at $10.50 (Mel, how does that relate to the overall cost of living?), and 4thRingSoc. tix going to $15 (plus higher annual fee), the gap widens.

How many times have I looked at a program and cast and reckoned that with the frequency I attend, it just wasn't worth shellling out another $20-$30? Many, indeed! I wish, I wish, I wish ABT would understand that and open the gallery, Susan. They probably wouldn't net much (if any) more money, given the expense, but it would shore up audience loyalty, and I think that would have some value to the company.

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Then of course, we won't even mention for the out-of-towners how much the train ticket has gone up, or the cost of parking and gasoline....

I remember going to a couple movies then at a first-run theater and the ticket was $3.95. I'd say movie tickets still cost too much, but they haven't inflated as much as live theater. I recall during the seventies, on hearing that a Broadway show was "civilized entertainment", that I thought it meant "tickets $50 each". I was right. And then there was Nicholas Nickleby - "TRULY civilized entertainment".

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I don't have any figures to hand, but I think that the increase in ticket prices in the West is largely due to increasing disposable incomes. Twenty years ago people had to spend something like a quarter of their incomes on food, while today, the proportion is more like 10%. Other costs of living (e.g. property and travel) have increased relatively, which would make tickets more expensive.

Conversely, I also think I remember reading that in pre-Revolutionary Russia, tickets for the ballet cost something like 2 months' income for a labourer, which made it inaccessible to all but the richest people in the land.

Anyone with more substantial figures than this?

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Clara, I'm assuming that is for OSU football... it also might include booster events and bowl games. I think it is important to look at if there is a variety of prices. Courtside seats at the Knicks are always going to cost a lot, but when I had season tickets at the Garden, I could see the Knicks and Rangers for $29 (this was only about 5 years ago). It should be the same for theater tickets.

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Yes- OSU football. No bowl games etc.

The Ohio stadium has 101,568 seats. I'd imagine that most sporting events take place in larger venues than the arts. This coupled with corporate sponsorship, widespread media coverage, tv revenue, and underwriting by corporations all contribute to keeping the price-point lower for sports events.

While I don't have the numbers like Major Mel does, the partial reason for the increase in ticket prices may be attributed to the overall increase in production costs- including theatre rentals, tickets, staff, labor, printing fees, etc.

I challenge those of you who find ticket prices too high for the arts to volunteer your services to those organizations, whether it be showing up and stuffing programs/envelopes or offering your own professional services so that the arts can fairly compete in these bleak economic times.

Come up with solutions- help the arts to compete. We really are at a disadvantage when compared to anything else. (Steps off of soapbox and stows said box :grinning: )

Clara 76

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$2,500 for season tickets to the OSU home games

But I bet OSU student tickets are subsidized to be much less than that. And the equivalent in dance? I'm one of those who thinks every child in ballet class ought to be taken to see the real thing at least once a year.

What got me started thinking about all this was my parent's recent visit to the Paris Opera's opening night. My mother was going on about how much the 1st ring box tickets cost her host, and I kept thinking "what a deal!!"... I still don't think she had the amount right... could it really only have been US$100? I'd really love to see matching funds for ticket sales... that would reward filling the house, wouldn't it?

Wouldn't the advantage of building an audience and creating the impression of a full house outweight any other consideration?
And nothing saps the energy out of a performance like an empty house... or adds energy like a packed house... I'm not sure exactly why there should be a difference, but there is a palpable difference.

I don't mind the absolute best seats going for a high price... after all, the tickets never pay for the full cost of the production anyway... but every effort should be made to sell the rest off... and I think it's even worth it to let people filter down to the better seats if they're empty... an audience needs to feel that they're in a sizeable audience...

I wish I could find some dispoable income... even just a little!

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My mother was going on about how much the 1st ring box tickets cost her host, and I kept thinking "what a deal!!"... I still don't think she had the amount right... could it really only have been US$100? 

That's getting a little bit off-topic, but the top prices for the program your parents saw were:

-120 euros (=about 150 US$) for the premiere (including the défilé and "Sonatine")

-80 euros (= about 100 US$) for the rest of the series

The top prices for most of the other programs of the season are 80 euros (in Garnier) or 75 euros (in Bastille), with Pina Bausch's "Orphee et Eurydice" being more expensive (130 euros) and a few modern programs and the POB school show being less expensive.

That's less expensive that in some other theaters abroad, but on the other hand the Paris Opera is the French institution with the highest subsidies, so that people already pay for it indirectly by their taxes...

The oldest season brochure that I have here is from the 1997-98 season, back then the highest price for ballet tickets was 395 francs= 60 euros.

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