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Why Your Ticket Purchase Isn’t Enough

by Jessica Dulle, Director of Development

Ever ask yourself, “Why do many theatres ask for donations when I already purchased tickets?” The truthful answer is several theatres are nonprofits and unfortunately your ticket purchase doesn’t cover the costs to keep the theatre open.

Running a theatre is an expensive business. If your favorite theatre is historic, it costs even more to keep the doors open.

“What are some of the costs,” you might ask yourself. Like any other business, theatres must think about administrative, maintenance, technology, and marketing costs. Getting you to our productions requires lots of dedicated professionals working long hours for months. No worries, we don’t mind. You leaving the theatre memorized by seeing one of our performances make it all worthwhile.

Many theatres also dedicate some funding to giving back to your community. This investment regularly goes into educational programming. Research proves that children who are exposed to the arts regularly earn higher grades, have bigger career aspirations, and are more civically minded. Adults and senior citizens also benefit from being engaged in the arts.

Armed with this knowledge, theatres invest dollars into educating members of our community and many times won’t turn them away if money is an issue.

Another unknown factor is several theatres don’t know how many audience members will show-up until almost show time. Unlike other businesses that produce items based customer demand, theatres will put on the same performance no matter how many people show up. This means theatres sometimes lose money producing some of your favorite shows.

Nationwide, theatres estimate having 60% audience capacity to their performances.

This is all wonderful information, but you may wonder, “how do theatres keep their doors open if my ticket purchase isn’t enough?” The answer is lots of diverse revenue streams. Funding can come from individuals, corporate sponsorships, endowment gifts, foundation grants, state funding, as much more.

These wonderful contributors also keep your ticket prices affordable so you’re not spending $150 to purchase one ticket.

While running a theatre is a complex business, supporting one doesn’t have to be. Consider making an investment in your community the next time your box office ask “would you like to add a donation to the theatre with your ticket purchase?”

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