A Note on Ticket Prices

As an artistic director, I am inclined to charge Bloor West-Yorkville prices for my precious and painstakingly crafted work. But as the company president, I need to put a reasonable number of asses in the seats.

Bottom line, theatre isn’t designed to make money. If you do it right, it’s built to recoup costs plus pay salaries, wages, and incidentals. Anything above that and I start to wonder if you’re doing theatre or a sex show. The line is very fine, to be sure.

Charge only what you have to to recoup based on your average audience, pay your team, plus no more than 10%. Theatre is already disproportionately expensive. A $100 million super-hero movie in 3D costs $13 while a play about four guys in an office talking about chicks costs $60 to get in and $74 if you actually want to see/hear it. And there isn’t a single explosion.

The cost structure of the theatre is balanced differently because far fewer people will see a play than a movie. Just don’t get greedy.

And don’t charge more than you’re worth. I’ve seen community theatre organizations charge upwards of  $40 for amateur productions where the romantic leads are ten years apart, but the oldest of the two is 19. On the other hand, I’ve seen brilliant professional productions dramatically undervalue their work. Another fine line. Sure, people are willing to pay more for the experience of live theatre. But only to a point.

I can barely pay for my actual costs let alone artist fees at $24 a pop.

The reality of the arts business is that the average person spends less than 5% of their annual income on culture. The more expensive all of our tickets are, they fewer shows they’ll see. And then we all suffer.

If you want a bonus, or even a raise, go be a banker or any one of the “real” professions. We’re here to do what we know in our hearts we’re meant to do but what our brains tell us is just a fantasy that we’ll grow out of eventually, while trying to just make enough money to pay our cellphone bill every month so we can actually receive those callbacks for that two-line walk-on as an irate waiting room patient.

It’s as glamorous as any other mental disorder except that you get prescribed compliments or weight loss pills.

Find me a theatre professional whose only job is being a theatre professional and chances are, they’re either in the administrative side of the business, or they’re someone I should be sucking up to right now.


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