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Theatre ‘loyalists’ supporting venues as sales fall 93%

Venues for the arts that have been focussing on long-term advance sales to their core customer base during the Covid-19 blackout are “faring less badly”, according to international arts management consultants TRG Arts.

TRG, in partnership with UK arts data specialists Purple Seven, reported a drop of 93 per cent in advance ticket sales during the first 10 days of theatre shutdown in the UK and North America.

However, the analysis by behavioural segment showed a steep increase of 43 per cent in the proportion of tickets being purchased by ‘loyalists’, which means those who have attended a venue three or more times previously.

TRG Arts said it is witnessing some organisations in the US maintaining or even increasing their subscription sales compared to the equivalent period last year.

TRG’s 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.”

Purple Seven’s chief executive Stuart Nicolle added: “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.”

Last week, Arts Council England (ACE) dipped into its reserves and suspended payments from two of its development funds in order to establish a £160m (€176m/$200m) rescue package for organisations and freelancers struggling to survive in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.

National portfolio organisations and companies outside ACE’s main funding programme, as well as freelancers, will be able to apply for support, with the first payments set to be awarded by May 11.

Image: David Joyce

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