There has been a “steep increase” in the proportion of tickets bought by theatres’ most loyal customers following the Covid-19 outbreak, new data has revealed.
This is despite analysis showing that the average number of advance daily ticket sales fell by 93% compared to the same 10-day period in March last year, with income down 92%.
Published by arts management consultancy TRG Arts and data specialists Purple Seven, the sample covers the period following the closure of theatres due to the coronavirus pandemic, between March 17 and March 26, and analyses data from 196 venues of all sizes across the UK.
Despite ticket sales falling dramatically, the data found a “steep increase”, of 43%, in the proportion of tickets being purchased by loyalists, who are defined as those who have attended a venue three or more times previously.
Purple Seven chief executive Stuart Nicolle said: “In the UK we’re seeing that it is not impossible to sell tickets in this market, but the focus of marketing activity must be on specific types of attendees and long-term programming.
“What you do now and how you focus your limited resources will make a major difference to the speed of the sector’s recovery.”
TRG chief executive Jill Robinson said: “In North America and the UK the most active patrons are supporting the arts and culture sector with their advance investment now.
“This group is fuelling cash and revenue streams, they’re donating tickets back and continuing as members and subscribers.
“You need to ask loyalists to be advocates and to tell their stories about how they value the arts and culture and encourage others to join as members, subscribers and donors too.”
The latest findings follow initial analysis, published earlier this month, of comparative advance sales for March 17 in 2019 and 2020, which saw a 92% year-on-year drop.
The new data showed that in the subsequent 10 days, the biggest drops in the proportion of sales were among the over 75s (down 39%) and 65 to 74 year olds (down 11%).
While all venues in the UK are witnessing a drop in advance sales, the comparative performance of venues “varies considerably”, with those focussing on long-term advance sales to their core customer base “faring less badly”, the research suggested.
TRG Arts and Purple Seven are inviting UK arts organisations to join a free Covid-19 benchmarking group, which will allow them to compare their experiences and performance with the sector as a whole.