Thursday, July 21, 2011

ACT In Seattle Institutes Another Pricing Option - Pay What You Can....Every Show

Theater Costs

Here is a little snippet of a Seattle Post-Intelligencer story back in 2003 about A Contemporary Theater (ACT) when it was on the brink of closing the doors:

"We choose to look at the theater's problems not as some unsurmountable monster mountain," Rappoport added. "We instead see these as a series of challenging hills we can get over, chunk by chunk. If we can amass a half-million dollars over the next few months, we can build momentum for the next chunk. We hope that when the big people see that the community wants this theater, then they'll come aboard too."

Before it can mount its next season, the theater needs to raise donations and pledges totaling $1.5 million, said Sheena Aebig, co-president of the board.

The 25 board members of ACT already dug into their own pockets and came up with $150,000 in donations to keep the theater operating. Another similar donation by the board members is expected to be part of the current support efforts, Rappoport said.

Eight years later ACT is still around, and news comes this week that they are instituting a pay-what-you-can rush ticket policy. By the way, that offer is for EVERY show.

Here's a short piece in the Seattle Times:

"We've talked with people in the community and there's this perception that theater is unaffordable," said Harley Rees, ACT's membership and audience-services director. By allowing patrons to name their own price at the box office, "we're just removing another barrier to coming to see a show."

According to Rees, ACT is not acting out of desperation, and the theater is doing relatively well in the current economic climate. He said sales of season subscriptions and ACT passes are up from last year.

But there are still unfilled seats. And, Rees noted, "In these tough times, a lot of people are struggling, and we want them to be able to see live theater. I think people need it more than ever these days."

This new policy is in addition to the theater's flexible membership option, which functions like a theatrical Netflix. If you pay a monthly membership, you can go to ACT shows as many times as you want. If you bring a friend, they get a half price ticket.

The Stranger's Brendan Kiley points out in the Slog that the announcement is close on the heels of a pretty heated discussion on theater costs prompted by another recent Slog post dealing with an ACT show.

1 comment:

John said...

The all-PWYC movement appears to be growing. Available Light Theatre in Columbus OH (avltheatre dot com) and Couerage Theatre Co in LA (coeurage dot org) are among others. I'm seriously considering adapting it as a business model for my own company when I start up next year, at least for the first year as I focus on audience-building.