Is Theatre too Expensive? 

Convener(s): Mark

Participants: Isabel


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

We were concerned that theatre was v expensive. We noted that it could cost £66 to see Legally Blonde tonight. 

We were concerned that the first people to pay when prices are constrained/reduced tend to be the artists/workers. Cheap tix mean more interns, reduced engagements, lower fees.

So we thought the schemes that subsidise tix are vital, like those at the National and Young Vic. We also thought it was important that this was extra money, rather than diverting funds from the artist to the audience. BTW who pays for YV £10 tix? We also thought it good that a proportion of tix are held for cheap seats.

We worried that people who could afford to pay were also benefiting from these schemes. We did not go as far as means testing the audience.

We discussed looking at how other industries/countries do it. Are there lessons there? We did not know about abroad, it transpired - does anyone else know of clever ways colleagues from other countries do it?

Other industries included the airlines:-

  • Differential pricing (tix get more expensive the later you book/the rarer they are)
  • Adding extras (Ryanair model) which we already do with booking fees, restoration levies, and card charges (should we charge for the toilets like we do for cloaks?)

We felt pursuing the capitalist model may not be the answer for theatre. There must be models that better reflect our place in society.

We noted that the people who set prices tend not to have to pay them, either 'cos they get comps, or often don't go to much. Radical idea - Theatre Managers should have to pay for their seats.