The arts ticket take

| Print |  Email
Thursday, July 23, 2009

With unemployment the third-highest in the nation, you’d expect Oregonians to upgrade their subscription to Netflix rather than shell out $40 for a ticket to the theater. But some of the state’s largest performing arts organizations experienced an increase in ticket sales during the 2008-2009 season even as contributions from individuals, foundations and businesses often dropped.

The Oregon Ballet Theatre’s financial woes have made headlines, but it enjoyed a third consecutive season of record ticket sales. Revenue from ticket sales was up $380,000 despite the drop in attendance to The Nutcracker caused by winter storms. Contributions were down 40%, but an emergency end-of-season fundraiser increased income 24%.

Ticket sales at both the Oregon Symphony and Eugene Symphony exceeded last year’s sales, while Portland Center Stage had its second-bestselling season in history (2,000 tickets below 2007-2008, its best season to date). Eugene Symphony and Portland Center Stage also saw an increase in contributions.

“The number of people coming was really strong, but they were definitely shopping for cheaper tickets,” says Cynthia Fuhrman, Portland Center Stage marketing and communications director. “Since our audiences tend to be local, with all the talk about stay-cations they might be turning to things close to home.”

Regardless of the success, all these organizations set lower budgets for next season.

Some groups saw fewer tickets sold. Sales for the Eugene Ballet Company and Portland Opera both dropped 15%. They also reported a drop in contributions. Jim Fullan, director of public relations and marketing for Portland Opera, says part of that drop is because of record box office sales in 2007-2008, when the opera performed big hits such as Carmen and Aida.

Even if ticket sales are high, arts organizations can never meet their budget through earned income alone, says Virginia Willard, executive director of Northwest Business for Culture and the Arts. Typically, sales are 60% of a performing arts organization’s revenue.

“If they rely too much on ticket sales, an arts organization cannot take risks,” says Willard. “If they make a budget on ticket sales, they have to charge more for their tickets.”

One thing is apparent: Those Oregonians with enough financial security to afford a ticket will continue to spend money for that moment when the recession, job woes and rainy weather are locked outside, the house lights dim and the performance begins. 

JENNY FURNISS
 

More Articles

Live, Work, Play: Amen Teter

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Catching up with Amen Teter, Portland-based global director of action sports for Octagon Olympics & Action sports talent agency.


Read more...

The city as startup

Guest Blog
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
011415 citystartup-thumbBY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Startups in the growth phase are associated with a fresh infusion of capital — human and financial — a curiosity factor and products to disrupt the market and drive demand. Portland’s economy gives off the same aroma.


Read more...

4 married couples who work together

The Latest
Thursday, January 22, 2015
IMG 0020BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

They say maintaining a healthy marriage takes work. So does running a business with your spouse.


Read more...

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president, plus an abridged Powerlist for the best commercial real estate firms.


Read more...

7 industry trends of 2015

The Latest
Friday, January 09, 2015
covertrends15-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Industry groups identify top trends for 2015.


Read more...

Playoffs pay off for the Ducks

The Latest
Friday, January 02, 2015
oregon-ducks-logo-helmet-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The University of Oregon football team looked unstoppable on the field Jan. 1 — and the university is reaping the benefits of the new postseason format.


Read more...

Streetfight

News
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS