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We’ve been hearing some interesting responses as we’ve been exploring the complicated terrain about how arts groups figure out how much to charge for tickets.
In her last dispatch, writer Roxana Popescu asked you:
How much do you pay for access to the symphony, your favorite opera, a good art exhibit? How much are you willing to spend on something risky at the La Jolla Playhouse or a familiar favorite at The Old Globe? Do you hunt for discounts or donate to the arts?
Please share your golden ticket number for theater, dance, visual arts or classical music.
Here are a few snippets from your responses. In a couple of cases I made small edits for clarity.
Reader Roger Jaffe took issue with Ticketmaster charges.
Ticket prices don’t irritate me. What irritates me is that Ticketmaster charges sometimes up to 30 or 35% of the ticket price for the “convenience” of purchasing a ticket over the phone or online when they’re the only game in town. I really appreciate theater companies like Lamb’s Players who run ticket sales in house and don’t charge this exorbitant fees for the “convenience”.
Olin Hyde said he often skips performances if Ticketmaster is the only option. Hyde shared the formula that impels him to buy tickets:
My magic number is $30. That’s $30 — not $30 + $10 in fees or whatever. The magic number for a series is $25.
There are a few organizations that I will pay a lot more to see — such as Orchestra Nova or SD Opera or Cygnet. However, if I see a bad show at The Globe or La Jolla Playhouse then I become far more price sensitive.
Performing arts companies can increase their value (to me) by doing really cool collaborations with unusual partners (like Art of Elan playing music in the Contemporary Art Museum). These types of experiments are usually cheap (like <$20) but generate enough credibility that I’m willing to pay top dollar to see them in other places.
Doug Sommer added some insight to the economic analysis we’ve been doing.
One of the reason Groupon and other discounters are so successful, is that these venues have both fixed and variable expenses. A business like a hotel or restaurant still has variable costs, whereas a play or museum have virtually no variable costs (especially one hour before the play begins).
We’ve also been hearing some great questions from you: How does the Arts Tix booth (whose location may be soon in flux) stack up against Groupon? Is a booth, versus an online service, still relevant? Have arts groups looked at other ticket-selling providers besides Ticketmaster? Do the groups get a portion of service charges?
How about you? What do you want to know? What’s your golden ticket number? Leave us a comment below, on Facebook or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at email@example.com or 619.325.0531.
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