Getting People into Seats
If you ask most any arts organization across the country what the number one issue facing them is, you will most always get the same answer.
Funding. Generating capital for arts organizations seems to be the biggest issue for everyone, and is an ongoing problem that most all continue
to grapple with from year to year and some from production to production.
There are many ways to raise money. Fundraising, grants, subscriptions and generous donors. It is important to exhaust all possibilities and continue to look out side the box for ways to raise money and increase audience. This issue seems more directly pointed at smaller companies who do not have the support that larger venues have. These larger venues are most often funded by the city, large corporations as well as a healthy amount of subscribers and local donors. This leaves smaller arts organizations on the continuous quest to stay a-float.
Getting grant money is a tedious process, but can pay off in the long run. Most cities have an Arts Alliance/Council of some sort set up specifically to promote the arts and grant money. Some of these are funded by the city through taxes, which are set-aside specifically for this purpose. You need to do a bit of research and fill out the necessary paperwork, but once approved, grant money helps sustain thousands of local artist and arts organizations throughout the country.
Fundraising happens on an ongoing basis, and if creative, can prove extremely beneficial in helping your company. Raffles, silent auctions and giveaways are excellent ways to do this. With a little hard work, most will find that local area business' will donate goods in return for a small ad in a program etc. These goods in turn become items to use in your fundraising campaign.
Donors are out there, albeit hard to find. Family and friends tend to be the most responsive to giving money to support these endeavors and should not be overlooked.
Successful companies continue to look for ways to get people in to seats and increase audience. Obviously, there has to be a good product to get them back, but the biggest revenue generator is ticket sales. If you were able to increase ticket sales and get those people to come back this would alleviate a big problem. But how do you lure new subscribers as well as keep your current patrons?
On option to consider is tiered pricing, or discounted tickets. Tiered pricing can reward your subscribers and repeat patrons as well as lure new people in to shows who may not pay full price. By offering cheaper tickets you open yourself up to reaching a larger group of people who may consider attending a show/event, but will only do so if the price is right. Your season subscribers would pay this price anyway, and will in turn get the best seats. Others who decide to attend a show will not care as much about the location of their seat as they will about the cost of the ticket.
In theory, discounting is the same thing. However, there is a negative connotation that comes with the word discount and some organizations simply refuse to do so. Why? This is a question that I cannot answer. The irony, is that these same companies who look down on discounting are more often that not already doing so by offering "student prices", "senior prices" or "last minute/rush tickets." Is this not a "discount?" Most would say yes.
The problem with the above examples is that they are offering this discount to people who may already be repeat customers. People who would probably pay full price anyway. There are a few companies who put these discounts in front of another channel of people and are a fantastic resource. These people may not ordinarily attend your event, but for the right price would give it a try. Using these companies to market your shows to people outside of traditional arts supporters will only help broaden your demographic and increase your reach of potential customers.
Generating revenue is no easy task and something that must continuously be addressed and re-thought. But with an open mind and the ability and want to adapt, success is within reach.