Friday, July 01, 2005

The Price of Theater Tickets

We have two honest-to-goodness theaters within 15 miles of my house, both historic places. The Woodstock Opera house is partially city-owned and most of the attractions are local theater groups. The Raue Theater attracts more national acts but at Chicago prices. I would love to go to the theater more, but prices make it a rare occasion.

Contrast that with Northern Illinois University’s Orchestra, Jazz Band and, of all things, an internationally respected Steel Drums Band. During the school year you can often get into shows for free or at nominal rates. Just 45 minutes from my house I would rather go there than Chicago.

On the other hand, maybe theaters would get more of an audience if they did what the Signature Theater is doing:

The Signature Theater Company, the Off Broadway troupe known for devoting entire seasons to a single playwright, has laid out its plans for its 15th-anniversary season. It will include a new play by August Wilson, old plays by August Wilson and a one-man show by August Wilson, starring August Wilson.
But perhaps its most interesting element - besides Mr. Wilson, of course - is its other constant: a $15 ticket for each and every seat.
The deal, announced yesterday by the company's artistic director, James Houghton, is a result of a three-year courtship between the Signature and Time Warner, which is underwriting the tickets.
"Time Warner's major philanthropic goal is to make arts accessible," Mr. Houghton said. "And we have always felt there's a kind of civic responsibility to make theater affordable."
At $15 the Signature tickets will run about the price of a movie and soda. (And a small soda at that.) Most Off Broadway companies, looking at declines in corporate, public and private giving, have steadily raised prices in recent years, with seats now regularly going for $50 or more. (The Signature generally charges $55.) On Broadway, orchestra seats commonly go for $100, while premium tickets can reach nearly $500.
The deal was met with admiration among other nonprofit leaders, who usually rely on ticket sales to provide at least half of their yearly budgets.

For the rest of the article, click here:

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