Ticket prices ‘about right’, say audiences

Live Theatre in Newcastle, one of the 17 arts organisations to be funded as part of the Newcastle Culture Investment Fund
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The majority of theatregoers believe tickets to plays, musicals and dance performances cost the right amount, according to a study of audiences in Tyneside.

Nearly 75% of survey respondents who collectively attended shows at 11 venues including Theatre Royal Newcastle and Live Theatre, said they felt the prices of tickets were “about right” for subsidised, commercial and amateur productions.

For those attending performances by subsidised companies, 90% were satisfied with the price, with 4% of these theatregoers saying prices were too low. Nearly 30% of audience members attending commercial productions said ticket prices for these types of shows were too high.

The report authors said that while audiences were price sensitive, they were more concerned about value rather than price: “Audiences are willing to pay more for particularly excellent work, but are frustrated by unexplained extra fees or when they pay more for substandard work. They also appreciate the excellent value of the lower prices of amateur productions.”

The study, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and administered by the research office at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, looked at 26 productions including Catch 22 by Northern Stage, Swan Lake by Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and the UK touring version of Dirty Dancing. 

Called The Value of Theatre and Dance for Tyneside’s Audiences, the report aimed to help arts advocates and policymakers make a clearer case for the value of theatre and dance.

It was conducted earlier this year, following Newcastle City Council’s decision in 2013 to back down on its proposed 100% funding cuts to arts organisations from 2016. It instead agreed to reduce its support by 50% to £600,000 per year.

Other findings showed that most people  – around 60% of audience members across all sectors – attend shows in a pair.

The research also found that theatregoers are more likely to attend a subsidised performance alone than a commercial or amateur one. More than 16% of audiences at subsidised shows were solo, while only 8% of commercial theatregoers and 4% at amateur shows were on their own.