By Suzy Evans
If you’re not a student, an industry member, a senior citizen or a child, finding cheap theater tickets can be tough. And with the economy perpetually whacking box offices everywhere, audiences need deals, as fellow guest blogger Abigail Katz pointed out. Some theaters have offered cheaper tickets for the recession weary, but new creative marketing strategies are popping up to attract audiences both during and beyond the economic downturn.
For their recent production of Migdalia Cruz’s El Grito Del Bronx at the Goodman, Chicago theater companies Collaboraction and Teatro Vista offered a money back guarantee on tickets. Audience members could receive complete cash refund after the show if they asked. The Richard H. Dreihaus Foundation, a Chicago-based granting organization, provided the funding to cover these refunds, but only about nine people asked for their money back. The concept was supposed to get more people to take risks on a show, without the financial burden.
The Steppenwolf tweeted a $10 ticket offer for its production of Up. The play was well-acted and meticulously directed, but the overall idea was a little bland. (Read my review here.) However, I’m guessing 10 dollar tickets would get more people to the theater; it’s definitely worth 10 dollars. Next to Normal on Broadway also used twitter to indirectly boost ticket sales. I’m not a huge fan of the show’s twitter feed (@N2Nbroadway), but according to The New York Times, its twitter tactic scored at the box office. Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey are even writing a new song for the show based on the twitter performance, which will not appear in the production but a public performance and digital download of it is planned. This show’s definitely worth the big bucks so if they can get people to the show, why not?
In the 1990’s, Rent pioneered the Broadway lottery concept, which is still thriving. However, entering your name in a ticket lottery does not guarantee that you’ll receive a cheap seat to that show. Student and general rush, which are becoming increasingly popular, are not sure bets either. And while Chicago theaters haven’t reached the epic prices of some New York shows, everyone is still looking for a deal.
Katz challenged theater artists to “blow it up” and make the art worth the money; however if you go to the theater and hate it, would you ask for your money back? Or would we be more likely to take risks and see new shows if tickets were cheaper? How cheap?
I think theaters throughout Chicago should band together and capitalize on Martha Lavey’s idea of picking your own subscription series. If theatergoers could create a subscription series of shows at different theaters, it would help multiple companies instead of just the one with the “best” show.
Are there any other ways that you’ve seen companies creatively market themselves? What about different ways to offer deals on tickets?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
By Suzy Evans