This month’s update covers ticket pricing, business models, and creative placemaking.

Marshall Jones III article on the American Theatre blog raises some interesting questions about how to go about setting and adjusting ticket prices. I used Michael Rushton’s book, Strategic Pricing for the Arts, in a class I taught fall semester. The answer to many of Mr. Jones’s questions can be found in Rushton’s book. For example, the final chapter, “Pricing for Mission,” offers a great foundation for arts managers to build on as they grapple with how much to charge for all types of programming.

The short article about business models is a good refresher when pondering what factors need to be considered in helping an arts organization achieve a degree of focus. I also noticed that a post to the article mentioned the “Business Model Canvas.” If you haven’t used this approach when teaching about creating an arts organization, I suggest you give it your attention. I found the Business Model Canvas a useful visual tool for helping students think through building blocks involved in starting an organization.

Lastly, I came across an article on creative placemaking in a recent Inside Philanthropy posting that offered a useful update to the information in chapter 2 in Management and the Arts. The article points out the placemaking process is achieving a healthy balance of urban and rural projects. I also included a link to the report on projects funded in 2016. The scope and variety of creative placemaking going on in America could make for an interesting discussion that is more current than the 2012 Smokestack Lightning article on page 66.


Is the Ticket Price Right?

Ticket pricing equilibrium is an ever-elusive puzzle for theatre managers. How do you find the sweet spot?


American Theatre, December 2016

As a college student studying theatre in the early 1980s, I frequently paid 50 cents to take PATH to New York, stand on line at the TKTS booth in Duffy Square, and pay $12.50 to see a Broadway show. (A regular ticket was $25.) Venturing into midtown Manhattan during the Reagan presidency was an adventure, as you had to make your way through homeless people living in the street and avoid eye contact with the ladies of the night. Half the Broadway theatres were dark and shuttered. Tickets were relatively inexpensive, so young artists and enthusiasts had easy access to plays, which also served as an extended classroom for emerging artists.

Today, every single Broadway theatre is booked, while Hamilton set a record by grossing more than $3.3 million in one week of eight performances. (That’s an average ticket cost of $303!) Premium tickets for Broadway shows can cost north of $200. Adjusting for inflation, the $25 ticket in 1984 should cost only about $58 today. Something is not sufficiently aligned.



Business models for everyone

Arts Professional, December 14, 2016

Why are there so many common misconceptions surrounding business models?

José Rodríguez explains their real purpose and value in the arts.

In the past few years, IETM, the international network for contemporary performing arts, has actively committed to supporting performing arts organisations in their quest to become more sustainable. The arts and cultural sector is challenged by a variety of factors, including public funding cuts, increased competition for available funds, digitalisation, shifts in the way people approach and consume cultural products and services, fast demographic transitions, the increased need to expand audiences and deepen relationships with them.

These challenges are the reason why we started working a few years ago with business models of non-profit arts and cultural organisations all around Europe. In each country the situation of the sector is different, but when the business models topic is first tackled, a few misconceptions usually arise. Here are three of them.



IETM – International network for contemporary performing arts – is a network of over 500 performing arts organisations and individual members working in the contemporary performing arts worldwide: theatre, dance, circus, interdisciplinary live art forms, new media.

For more information about “The Business Model Canvas,” here’s a video you can watch [21:28]:


Want to Know Where Funding for Creative Placemaking Is Headed? Start Here

Mike Scutari, Inside Philanthropy, December 14, 2016

The popularity of creative placemaking shows no signs of abating. And with lots of money in this space, backing a diverse range of activities, it’s important to know how funders are thinking. A challenge here, though, is that there is no universally accepted definition of creative placemaking. The Kresge Foundation admits as much, saying that “many elements of creative placemaking are not well understood, and that lack of clarity inhibits more widespread adoption of the practice.”

Maybe the best way to keep a finger on the pulse of creative placemaking funding right now is to watch ArtPlace America, the 10-year collaborative of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions that “works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities.” (Okay, there’s one definition for you.)


LINK TO Artplace funded projects in 2016: