The traditional subscription system – same seat(s), same night of the week – is not something we can consider, having four theatres with varying capacities and seating configurations. It’s also true that the metabolism of the average theatregoer has changed. Prior to 9/11, single ticket advance sales were strongest two weeks prior to any performance. Post 9/11 it’s more like two days.
It’s a fundamental shift calculated to give premature white hairs to theatre managers like me. There’s bound to be an academic study on why. But for now at ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage, we’ve opted for a membership program where the financial advantages for members are obvious and access to the best seats (indeed any seats) is a primary motivation.
We’ve also instituted booking periods – meaning that tickets go on sale not for the entire season all at once, but rather for the fall season followed by winter/spring season. People are just not inclined to make commitments to performances months in advance. So it’s a waste to encourage them to do so. ArtsEmerson members will get first crack at seats, at a discount, with no per-ticket service fee, free exchange privileges, and free section upgrades. Memberships go for $60 a year and come with all of this plus a free ticket!
We are beginning this enterprise with an audience of zero. Gulp. I hope there will be a feeding frenzy for this attractive membership offer – new theatres, new cultural opportunities, new energy, and a great financial deal. Check it out in more detail and let me know what you think.