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Money-losing Performing Arts  
User currently offlinePROSA From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5644 posts, RR: 4
Posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1027 times:

It seems to be an unavoidable rule in the United States that performing arts organizations lose money on their daily operations. Whether you're talking about symphony orchestras, opera companies, regional theaters or dance companies, among others, ticket revenues seldom come close to operating expenses, forcing the organizations to depend on contributions, government grants, corporate sponsorship or sometimes endowment income for their survival. And these sources may not be enough; several symphony orchestras, in particular, have closed or drastically scaled back in recent years.

There are a number of possible causes for this revenue/expense mismatch - too much competition for the public's entertainment spending, lack of effective pricing power, poor control of expenses, or sheer mismanagement, just to name a few that come to mind. Is this assessment accurate? Are there other issues I haven't mentioned? And lastly, do performing arts organizations outside the United States face a similar struggle?


"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21864 posts, RR: 55
Reply 1, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1019 times:

I think it's a combination of many factors. First of all, I think it's clear that the performing arts are nowhere near as popular as they were before. That's the main reason. Another is that it costs a lot of money to create a quality production, but the average concertgoer can't really tell the difference between a good show and an average one, and thus doesn't want to pay more. Also, there has been growing opposition to federal funding for the arts, because people don't want to pay taxes for something that doesn't affect them (the thing is, it does affect them in a positive way, whether they know it or not).And mismanagement is always an issue.

Both my parents are musicians (my mother is a violinist and my father is a conductor), and they both say that in Europe, the situation is much better. I'm not sure exactly why, but I believe it has to do mainly with the performing arts being held in higher esteem there.



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineVSLover From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 1897 posts, RR: 22
Reply 2, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1011 times:

very interesting, since i'll be going for my MBA specifically to work in management at performing arts not-for-profits.

i think a key factor is RELEVANCE. with aging populations of patrons, the performing arts are trying to reinvent themselves as a relevant entiry to a new culture of individuals who have an attention span much shorter than a commercial.

combine with the the lack of mass education on any aspect of performing arts either because of unavailable mass programming (tv for example) or drastic cuts in school arts programs.

productions and concerts are amazingly difficult to maintain monetarily and thus rely heavily on dontations, contributions, and tickets. sadly because tickets must be priced effectively to make a venture somewhat valuable in monetary terms, many tickets are priced beyond the average pedestrians justification for seeing something they may not be interested in. resultantly this person may get the worst seat at the metropolitan opera where he/she can barely see or hear whats on stage and confim his/her belief that the arts "suck." sadly the difference from sitting in the nosebleed section for $25 is drastically different than sitting in prime orchestra seats for $225.

in europe, not only has there been extensive mass exposure to the performing arts, but there is also a much greater deal of governmental support in additon to the rich cultural tradition of this music having been established in europe. how else would you expect a dozen plus orchestras in the london area to all maintain their presence, and draw in the crowds?


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21864 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1003 times:

Yeah, i forgot the lack of musical education in the schools these days. At the high school I went to, music appreciation was a required (half-year) course. But nobody cared about it at all. In one ear, stay long enough to pass a test, and then out the other. The trouble is, how do you make people interested in music? One idea I had is to require that every child play an instrument in school. That might actually accomplish a lot.

in europe, not only has there been extensive mass exposure to the performing arts, but there is also a much greater deal of governmental support in additon to the rich cultural tradition of this music having been established in europe. how else would you expect a dozen plus orchestras in the london area to all maintain their presence, and draw in the crowds?

Europe is famous for it's artistic culture, and the governments there would probably want to uphold that tradition. America doesn't have that, and at this rate, probably never will. In France, I saw a high school named after Monet. In New York, the big arts high school is named after a past mayor of the city. The difference in how artists are on the social scale is that clear.

resultantly this person may get the worst seat at the metropolitan opera where he/she can barely see or hear whats on stage and confim his/her belief that the arts "suck." sadly the difference from sitting in the nosebleed section for $25 is drastically different than sitting in prime orchestra seats for $225.

At the Met, I've found that the higher seats are better for sound than the lower ones. Balcony is best IMO ($50). The average person would be better off in the lower seats where they can see better. Maybe the companies should start charging less for the low seats and more for the high seats.



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDtwclipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 995 times:

PROSA;

I am on the board of trustees, and my father is on the board of directors of one of the largest opera companies in the US.

We can not, nor do not expect to break even on ticket sales alone, it is impossable. Just the cost of opening up the "house" is a major cost.

As we muddle through this current recession, we have lost a great deal of our subscription base, as well as cut backs in corporate sponsorships, and individual donations.

This is not just a problem in the US. When I was in Vienna last year, I was shocked to hear that they too would receive less goverment sponsorship and would inturn have to rely on the private sector.








User currently offlineCaptoveur From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 988 times:

How can the symphony or opera playing timeless classics ever compete with large sweaty men slamming into each other in a scripted fight, or bubba keeping his foot glued to the floor of an antique car while turning left for 3 hours?

The real arts just simply do not seem to draw the crowd that is flushing the most money down the entertainment toilet. I have to admit that when faced with the arts options here in SAT I would rather drive 4 hours each way to an Astros game instead. I hear the arts scene is better in Houston, but I don't see them advertising here so it is sort of an out of sight out of mind thing. That also might be the problem nationwide with the symphonies, operas and ballets. People can't go to these things if they don't know they are going on.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21864 posts, RR: 55
Reply 6, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 972 times:

hear the arts scene is better in Houston, but I don't see them advertising here so it is sort of an out of sight out of mind thing

They have to spend money to advertise, but they don't have money to spend. And the vicious cycle begins....



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinePROSA From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 5644 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (10 years 3 months 4 weeks ago) and read 944 times:

Good responses from all, thanks.
Unfortunately, it doesn't sound as if there are any easy solutions. If audiences and thus revenues are static or shrinking, maybe performing arts organizations should concentrate on the other side of the ledger and try to reduce their costs. But that wouldn't be easy, either. It could be that cultural tastes are cyclical and in the future more people may be interested in quality performing arts. We'll have to wait and see.



"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"
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