Friday, February 19, 2010

Ticket Pricing: Part II

Ok, so I said it, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make art AND make money, but where does the social part in "social profit" come in because although we want (and should) make money we also want to make theatre accessible and affordable especially to those who quite literally can’t afford it.

As social profits we are here to serve our communities and do it in the most economical fashion. Yes, it is a hard balance to maintain. But that is why we have discounted previews, 2-for-1 nights and prices for students and seniors. We discount are regular ticket prices just like those Lululemon pants will eventually go on sale but there still needs to be a standard base rate that sets a value on the product.

Currently 20-something charges $22 adults, $16 students and seniors and from there we have two $10 previews and three 2-for-1 nights. And, this past summer, we had 6 sold-out performances and had an average audience attendance of 88% so I can only put two-and-two together.

Some people may ask: how much of that 88% percent were comps? And, I can tell you that Opening Night was probably 50% comps and then every other performances maybe on average 5 comps (and that included the free comps we gave to everyone who came to see our second preview that ended up being cancelled). So, that means the majority of our audience was paying, and that meant we turned a profit, AND that meant I was able to pay everyone who worked on the show. That is a great feeling. Especially for us, a young company, who is only now entering into their 5th year.

That being said however, I am trying something new with our upcoming production. I’m not scaling back our prices for our winter show – which is smaller and therefore we charge less – but I am changing our ticket pricing system. On a post in the fall I raved about another blogger's post on young audiences and the three points he made about getting young audiences. We have been successful at getting those young audiences; however, I’m not about to just say “ah well, we’ve been successful” and leave it at that.

No, I’m always going to be looking at new ways and new ideas of how I can bring more people, and specifically young people, to the theatre. So, point #3 on that list is “offer it at a price point they find reasonable”. Well the fact that we sold-out tells me we seem to be doing that but I said to myself how can I make it even more accessible and affordable for young people? Because god knows we are only starting to establish ourselves and money can be a struggle. Trust me I’m in that boat with the rest of you.

With that in mind I’ve decided not to change our ticket prices, per se, but to change our ticket pricing structure. Our target demographic is 18-35 and sometimes the “student” rate doesn’t cover that demographic because all 18-35 year olds are (obviously) not all students. So instead of a “students/seniors” rate we are going to be offering an “under 35 & over 65” rate.

I’m not sure how it will work out because it might be hard to monitor. It’s much easier to ask someone for student id then it is to say “excuse me but you look older than 35 can I please see some id?”. But I thought I would give it a shot and see what happens. On the plus side it will also make it much easier to keep track of how well we are doing at bringing in our target demographic.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Any other problems or glitches you foresee? Any thoughts on how to smooth out any possible glitches?

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer


  1. Sounds like a great idea to me, similar to what we do at Pacific Theatre. Our "student" prices are actually for everyone 26 and under, and I find in general that you don't have to do much policing with it. People are generally pretty honest, and if someone over your cutoff age is going to try to cheat their way into the cheaper tickets, then chances are good that they literally can't afford to pay full price. Let's be honest, it's kind of embarrassing to lie about your age to save $5, so most people will only do that if that five bucks means the difference between them being able to afford to see your show or not.

  2. Hi Ange -

    Thanks for your comment. I tend to agree with you on the whole "policing" thing. I'm not overly concerned with it. Like you said I just trust that people will be honest and go from there.


  3. this is common practice in lisbon (where I currently find myself), at all sorts of perf venues/festivals. usually under-30s pay 5 euros, which makes student prices redundant (although there continue to be special discounts for school groups and performing arts professionals...). at some places they do check ids at the door, doesn't seem to cause much confusion either way.

  4. Thanks for the comment - all the way from Lisbon, too - I'm happy to hear that it seems to be working!


  5. I think Itsazoo has their age limits lower, 29, I think. But they also offer the lower ticket price to the "unwaged", just to make sure everyone can afford theatre...