Actors Theatre Aims to Buck Trend in Declining Audiences

by ekramer on August 19, 2008

Actors Theater of Louisville launched a strategy today to help develop new audiences, in a time when the number of theater patrons is in decline. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

This season Actors Theater of Louisville is offering tickets priced below its $40 average ticket price to grow its audience. Theater executives announced an initiative offering $10 tickets to people who have never attended an Actors Theatre performance and another offering $20 tickets on the day of any given performance.

Actors’ managing director, Jennifer Bielstein, says theaters nationwide are looking for ways to compete against more entertainment options and that their traditional business model based on subscriptions is failing to generate the receipts they have in the past.

“It’s not a dead model, but it is less than half of our audience that actually attends as subscribers, and that’s difficult for a theater,” Beilstein says. “And our programming choices over time could be affected by it. They’re not yet, but that’s a concern in the national field.”

This month, a national association of theaters released a report citing declining attendance and subscriptions at theaters nationwide.

Bielstein says the move is part of the theater’s new five-year plan to grow and diversify its audience and produce work that audiences find relevant.

“One of our key goals is to bring a broader range of people to the theater,” she says. “So we’re looking at who it is that we currently reach, what the demographics of that audience is currently and to better align our programming with our audience development goals as we move through the next few years.”

Those goals include finding ways to offset the nationwide trend in declining subscriptions and producing plays that audiences find relevant.

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