The not-for-profit organisation that earns the majority of its revenue from New York City’s TKTS discount ticket booths has launched a fundraising campaign to stay afloat, while Spotify announces its new artist donations feature…

Theatre Development Fund

The Theatre Development Fund (TDF), which earned 85% of its revenue from the TKTS discount ticket booths in New York City before COVID-19 forced Broadway’s closure, has launched a fundraising initiative to “sustain critical operations.”

The not-for-profit organisation for the performing arts has kicked off its Lifeline Campaign: Protect Today, Rebuild Tomorrow with the aim of raising $500,000 by June.

Broadway theatres in New York City, which have been shut due to the Covid-19 outbreak since March 12, will remain closed until at least June 7.

TDF executive director Victoria Bailey said: “We have launched this fundraising campaign to help TDF weather this difficult time as we develop new ways to work with our constituents digitally, and plan for the major work ahead when theatres reopen and need audiences.

“The cultural sector will play a vital role in rebuilding New York City, and TDF is committed to being there to support the effort in every way we can.”

Prior to the shutdown, the popular TKTS discount ticket booths in Times Square and other New York City locations would see long queues of locals and tourists looking to buy day-of tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows at steep discounts.

A total of 41 theatres are located in the district in Manhattan and support nearly 90,000 jobs. Thirty-one productions were cancelled on the opening day of the shutdown alone, with concerns increasing about the financial impact for stakeholders.

TDF said the closures have eradicated its primary revenue streams and says it is looking as though it could struggle to run its programmes, such as its National Autism Friendly Performance Training Program.

Bailey said: “[TDF] relies on theatre and dance performances and the venues they perform in for our livelihood.

“We earn 85% of our revenue to fund our services – including our Accessibility, Education and Community Engagement programs – from the per-ticket service charge from the TKTS booths, and handling fees from our TDF membership program.”

Total attendance figures for Broadway reached 14.77 million in the 2018-19 season. The total represented a 7.1% increase on the 2017-18 figure of 13.79 million.

Attendance, gross takings and playing weeks had increased year-on-year on Broadway since the 2016-17 season, with revenues having doubled in the decade before the unprecedented impact of Covid-19.

Spotify

Spotify has launched a new fundraising feature for artists, who are suffering major ticketing and other revenue losses due to the live events blackout, as part of its COVID-19 relief efforts.

Artists can now enable an ‘Artist Fundraising Pick’ button on their profile on the global streaming app to direct fans to a fundraising destination.

The musicians can choose to raise money for themselves or opt to give the cash to a charity or crews who have been left without work while tours have been put on hold.

Spotify said in a blog post: “Given the urgency and impact of the Covid-19 crisis, we’re working as quickly as we can to develop this new product and get it out to as many artists as possible. However, we’ve never built a fundraising feature like this before.

“We consider this a first version that will evolve as we learn how to make it as helpful as possible for the music community.”

Last month, singer Evan Greer set up a petition requesting Spotify to triple its royalty payments after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated musicians earnings.

The firm has not responded to the petition, but has separately pledged up to $10m in donations to organisations supporting artists in need, including MusiCares and the UK charities Help Musicians and the PRS Foundation.

MLB

Chicago-based Major League Baseball franchises the Cubs and White Sox have begun offering season ticket holders five-per-cent interest payments for games that have been forgone due to the COVID-19 shutdown of sports.

The optional plan will see fans receive a payment upfront for each game that is not played with the original amount of the ticket to roll over to the 2021 season.

The Cubs, which has a six-tier pricing system for passes, set its season ticket price for a standard seat at $3,558 in 2020, plus tax. The Cubs finished fourth in attendance in 2019 at the 41,649-capacity Wrigley Field, averaging 38,208 per game, a slight drop-off from 2018.

The announcement comes as the league, its 30 teams and its ticketing partners, including StubHub and Ticketmaster, face a lawsuit due to denied refunds.

The MLB 2020 season was due to kick off on March 26, though no new date has been set, and proposals of potentially playing games without fans in Arizona, Florida or Texas have been floated.

Image: George Hodan