The Playgoer: Ticket Price Problems, cont. (DC edition)

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Ticket Price Problems, cont. (DC edition)

Sure enough, just as NYT was running Charles Isherwood's take on ticket prices, WaPo offered the DC edition by Peter Marks.

Inspiring story of the small Catalyst theatre there, who took the plunge--without any corporate-backed safety net--into $10 tickets.

When Scott Fortier proposed reducing ticket prices for his company, Catalyst Theater, to the fire-sale level of $10 for all seats at all times, his board took a great big gulp.

Everyone knows, after all, that the costs of putting on plays go up, not down, every year, and that apart from cajoling deep-pocketed foundations and patrons for gifts, the only way to pay the bills is to charge more at the gate. But what Fortier coveted more than checks were fuller houses for the modern plays and revitalized classics Catalyst stages at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop -- an aim that was not being met at the company's regular prices of $25 to $30 a head.

Fortier's cheap-seat strategy has proved enormously popular: This past season, its first full one at $10 a pop, the company performed to an all-time high of 76 percent capacity, and this fall, annual subscriptions have doubled.
Marks also details some of the new "Hiptix"-esque programs by the two DC biggies Arena and Shakespeare--basically limited discounts for under 35'ers. But as you read all the restrictions and exceptions on these and similar programs you start to wonder how much does it help to require ID checks, only certain days in certain combinations, etc. As mentioned in a comment earlier, TCG has launched some totally free nights of theatre across the country involving a bunch of member companies. But ultimately nothing will do as much good for theatre as cheap tix all the time. The audience sought for with these campaigns is an impulse buy audience, remember. If they were inclined to register for a membership and commit to certain days in advance...well, they'd become subscribers, wouldn't they.

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