Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ticket Pricing: Part I

Ok, I started writing this post this morning, and before I knew it it was 3 pages long in Word. Apparently I have a lot to say on this topic. So, today, I will post the first half and tomorrow I will post the rest. Here goes....

Brace yourselves I’m going to talk $$$ again.

This time I’m talking ticket prices. There are many factors that go into ticket pricing. You don’t want to charge too much but you also don’t want to charge too little. Yes, I said too little.

The bottom line is when things are cheap we expect cheap quality and when things are expensive we expect good quality. So if you price your production too cheap you are basically saying to your audience “don’t expect much because it’s cheap”; however, the price still needs to match the type of production you are putting on (ie. small independent versus large regional).

There are a lot of people out there that talk about how ticket prices for theatre are too expensive. I’m sorry but that is a load of crap. You go out to a restaurant today and you easily spend $20+ on a meal. You go to a movie: it’s $12.50 plus the inevitable popcorn, drink and candy you buy so you can easily add another $8 making that again at least $20. You go to a concert again easily $20. Some concerts are upwards of $100. The largest showcase of arts & culture that was the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics tickets started at $175 and the place was packed. I’m working on The Blue Dragon at SFU and tickets are anywhere from $55-$75 and the show has been sold out from Day 1.

Ok, okay, granted he’s Robert Lepage and a Canadian icon. If his shows didn’t sell out I would be surprised; however, it still drives home the point that it isn’t so much about how much as it is about quality. It’s not that people are not willing to pay good money to see theatre. They just aren’t willing to pay money to see bad theatre or okay theatre.

Obviously no one starts out working on a production going “ok, we’re going to make a really crap production”. We all strive (I would hope) to create the best possible production we can given the circumstances (and funds) we are working with. So, then it comes down to placing a value on our work and if we don’t start valuing the work we do as artists then how do we expect anyone else to value the work we do.

And, that means charging an appropriate price for what we are selling. We don’t give it away for free and we certainly don’t charge $5 (or even $10 for that matter). That just seems ludicrous to me. Like I’ve said time and time again. Theatre is a business just like anything else. We are in the business of Art. You don’t see Lululemon out there selling its yoga pants for $5. No these “magic” yoga pants sell for upwards of $75 - $100. And thousands and thousands of people have bought into the "magic" and strut around the city (and world) with great looking asses. I have a closet full of Lululemon (for a long time I resisted but then I just couldn’t help myself). One of the reasons (the other is marketing but that is another day, another blog) Lululemon has been so extremely successful is because they placed a value on the clothes AND they wanted to make money.

We are so dead set, in the world of making art, in the thinking that art doesn’t make money that it has become an unconscious belief. And our thoughts are a powerful tool as any new-age yoga practicing spiritualist will tell you. So we have to change the way we think. Making money is NOT a bad thing. It’s a good thing which is why I really like the new term “social-profit” rather than “charity” or “not-for-profit”.

So, I will say it loud and proud, so that you know that I fully believe (no unconscious negativity here) there is nothing wrong with making art and making money at the same time.

....To be continued.

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

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