Arts & Culture

Marked signs of improvement for arts and culture in the US – study

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JCA Arts Marketing, a division of consulting firm JCA, has revealed that while ticket sales across the US performing arts industry have not quite reached pre-pandemic levels, there is a glimmer of hope with sales and income trend lines improving. 

The division helps arts and cultural organisations leverage data-driven insights to grow audiences and revenue, and recently released a new study titled ‘Trends in Audience Behaviour: What’s New in 2023?’.

Higher costs and dwindling audiences during the 2022-23 season led to cancelled seasons and closed doors.

However, JCA Arts Marketing has said there are marked signs of improvement, but some performing arts genres will continue to have a more difficult time than others. Subscriptions have also continued to drop.

Data for the Subscription Sales Study was gathered from 21 major organisations in different regions of the US, including eight regional theatre companies, six music organisations, four opera companies and three performing arts centres.

The analysis compares subscription sales for the 2022-23 season to past seasons in 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2021-22.

Data revealed that on average, ticket sales were trending up across all genres since the reopening of the 2021-22 season. Music organisations were leading the way in audience rebound, but were still not reaching pre-pandemic levels in terms of ticket sales. These institutions were, however, closer to pre-pandemic sales than theatre and opera.

Audience decline for theatres since the pandemic is more pronounced than other performing arts and culture genres. There is some hope for theatre though, as sales showed signs of improvement in spring this year.

According to the data, the decrease in ticket sales post-pandemic is not a pricing problem. There was no data that suggested that the audience were any more price sensitive than a pre-pandemic audience, and prices have not kept up with the high inflation.

Single ticket sales have increased since 2021-22 according to JCA Arts Marketing, but it is not enough to replace subscriber decline. The consulting firm added that the timing of people purchasing tickets has also not changed since the pandemic.

Jamie Alexander, director of JCA Arts Marketing and co-author of the study, said: “We are encouraged by the positive trend in ticket sales we’ve seen since last year. While we aren’t out of the post-pandemic woods quite yet, there is light coming in – but we must keep focused on what inspires audiences in today’s world.”