I’ve been reading A LOT of articles recently about how ticket sales are holding up well while all around us businesses continue to fail. This morning on NPR I heard a story about dairy farmers having to leave the business because of the plummeting price of milk. Really? Milk? Don’t we need as much milk as ever? Anyway…I thought I’d share with you some of the preliminary results of our fiscal survey. We will release more information early next week. The survey indicates that indeed ticket sales are strong, with 50% of theatres reporting steady or increased ticket sales and of the 50% indicating decreased sales, 60% of those are reporting that those decreases are due at least in part to programming. 65% of theatres report that they are projecting contributed income to be down from what was budgeted for FY 09 in varying degrees from 10-60%.
Give some love (or some money) to your favorite theatre in the $250,000 to $1 million budget range because they are faring the worst. 70% report decreased ticket sales and 65% are reporting decreased contributed income. My unscientific opinion is that at this level any kind of decrease in funding results in marketing budgets being cut results in lower ticket sales results in even lower marketing budgets.
I think we need to remind ourselves and our supporters that ticket sales only count for about ½ of our budgets (less in some cases, a lot less in others). Our community is strong and we have been successful in creating spaces where artists can do excellent work. With community support, this could be the time that Chicago attains the competitive advantage and becomes the top destination for theatre going in the United States and possibly the World. Theatre-making in Chicago is not tied to a bottom-line commercial mentality, and so we are able to produce theatre respected all over the world. For our theatres at the highest risk, we need our community to increase support. For us all we need our community to stay engaged and to continue to support theatre at the highest levels possible.