We get it – becoming a season subscriber for your local ballet company might feel like more of a commitment than you’re ready to make right now.
You may be overwhelmed by endless package options organized into charts, shows you know nothing about (much less know if you would enjoy watching them), and color-coded theater diagrams. By the time you flip to the final page of the brochure, you might just decide once again to skip the subscriber experience this year. Instead, you’ll buy a ticket closer to showtime, and that means no matter what, you’ll make sure you at least see The Nutcracker. Right?
What if we told you that becoming a season subscriber isn’t merely a set of perks but is about transmuting a simple ticket stub into a strong foundation that a ballet company can build on to create bold new artistic works and invest in up-and-coming artists?
American arts organizations depend more on ticket sales and private donations than other similar organizations globally. Case in point, the US covid recovery package for arts organizations provided a mere $47.30 per capita, while France and Canada provided more than double that with $126.90 and $123.70 per capita, respectively.* Due to this increased dependency on private donations and ticket sales, annual programmatic decisions in American ballet companies are strongly influenced by desperation to sell sure-fire hits and bring back guaranteed successes instead of investing in expanding the artform and pushing creative boundaries.
And it makes perfect sense – why would a fiscally responsible organization risk working with an untested choreographer or exploring a fresh, immersive style of movement when they could instead play it safe with a tried-and-true production? So, season after season (especially amid circumstances such as global pandemics), arts organizations tread softly. Relegating ballet to a dusty shelf of remakes and repeats with no new life infusing the stage.
But when you, as a patron of the arts, commit to a whole season at a ballet company, you offer a stable source of revenue that can sustain the organization across multiple performances. This breaks the dependency on single ticket sales and desperate rushes to fill seats for shows that may not make blockbuster status. Because of your support, arts administrators will no longer be refreshing their ticket data half an hour before curtain or begging people to see the new artist they believe so deeply in. Instead, they are emotionally and financially supported by you and an entire community of subscribers that believe in the future of ballet. A subscription purchase is one of the most potent ways you can tell a ballet company that you trust them to enrich your life with beauty of all types, and that you are there to support the creation of fresh loveliness and bold new ventures.
This is a topic close to the heart of most ballet companies, and when we began a conversation about it with our partners, they had such unique insights to share.
Christopher Anderson, the Chief Marketing Officer at The Washington Ballet, said, “Subscriptions are a bit of a misnomer for the performing arts and specifically the ballet community because that term doesn’t emphasize sufficiently the unique live event aspect of our productions. Each event we present intertwines artistic expression and high-level athletic prowess in a way you’d only be able to see otherwise at championship sporting events. Essentially, our subscribers are season ticket holders that make up a significant community resource for our non-profit performing arts company to continue its mission to bring the joy and artistry of the highest caliber dance to the community. In return for their long-term support, we’re able to provide added value to their performing arts experiences and develop a better reciprocal relationship with our communities. We’re incredibly thankful for our subscribers, they are a large part of why The Washington Ballet was able to endure through the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
And Shelly Power, the Executive Director at Philadelphia Ballet, said, “While purchasing single tickets is increasingly popular, subscriptions represent a large portion of our annual ticketing income and allow us to support the next generation of choreographers through programming like our New Works series. Season subscriptions provide the best value for our patrons and allow patrons to experience our dancers in a variety of roles.”
If you are able to purchase even one subscription a season, you can be a key part of breaking this cycle of slim margins and safe programming, empowering your local ballet company to create groundbreaking art with a ferocity of imagination that we all crave to see on the stage.
So if you are already planning on seeing one or two performances during the season, why not level up your ticket purchase to an investment in the organization’s artistic future. Become a season subscriber and provide support and inspiration for the passionate creators in your community. Who knows what beauty you will make possible?
P. S. Are you a ballet company’s administrative team member and interested in finding more ways to inspire your patrons to invest in subscriber relationships with your organization? These resources below are a wonderful way to begin your journey, educating your team and providing data upon which you can build your proposal to reinvest in subscriptions.
- TRG Arts’ Three Myths Arts Organizations Tell Themselves About Subscriptions or Membership
- SMU Data Arts’ Earned Relational Revenue Report: How Subscription and Membership Revenue Supports Expenses
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