Audience trends are flat or in decline. The percentage of the U.S. adult population attending non-musical theater has declined from 13.5 percent (25 million people) in 1992 to 9.4 percent (21 million people) in 2008. The absolute size of the audience has declined by 16 percent since 1992.
And guess what? Ticket prices don't seem to be a major factor.
Overall, the report can be summed up this way: Theaters have undeniably become full of robust administrators, marketers and fundraisers, but audiences don't seem to care. I think the executive summary could be attached as a coda to Mike Daisey's monologue How Theatre Failed America.
There is already talk around the web about the report:
Alexis Soloski, writing in the Guardian:
The NEA already sponsors some theatre outreach, but why not launch a Big See? The endowment could partner with hundreds of communities to encourage attendance at theatre productions and ensure that all schoolchildren have access and exposure to plays, developing a new generation of audience members.
In Response, George Hunka sighs:
Telling people that theatre is "necessary" to their lives is transparently false. Besides, is "empathy" or "interpersonal exchange" all that theatre is about? Can people not get that elsewhere? Or could it look more deeply at our condition, as an art that uniquely places the speaking body at the center of our