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On subscriptions…and why we don’t offer them

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.


  1. Christine SinksJune 8, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I am so thrilled for my daughter to be exposed to this great arts community in Boston! She will be attending Emerson this fall as a freshman in Musical Theatre. After reading about the upcoming season of ArtsEmerson, not only am I excited for her, but I hope to rally support for Arts Emerson among my group of fellow parent-theatre-lovers from all over the country. With today’s technology, esp. re: communication, if I easily learned about Emerson’s great educational opportunities, and now this great enterprise of ArtsEmerson from my relatively small theatre community base in St. Louis, MO (O.K., and from the Internet), I firmly believe ArtsEmerson will be a huge success within a few booking periods (esp. with the addition of new direct flights to Boston on Southwest Airlines!) I like your innovative and forward thinking (and writing!) and I am anxious to read and learn more about this exciting endeavor!

  2. The International School has a strong theater program in English and in French, and every year we take groups of up to 20 students to at least 2 live theater performances – but even with a membership we won’t be able to afford to come to any of your shows without a student ticket discount. Do you offer one? We are especially interested in Fragments and Merchant of Venice.

    Anne Tyson

    • Rob Orchard, Executive DirectorJune 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      Yes, we will have student discounts as well as group rates. How large a group do you bring and what do you think is a fair ticket price? Thanks, Rob

  3. Rob Orchard, Executive DirectorJune 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Please let us call you directly so we can take your order personally. Whats the best # to call and when? Thanks for your interest. Rob Orchard

  4. Sally EricksonJanuary 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Dear Mr. Orchard, I went to see psy last night, I read about it on the Boston channel 5, I have never been entertained like I was last night. My 18 year old son has a love of anything off the wall., so off we went. I was stunned,scared, delighted,amazedand charmed.
    It was fun to laugh at things we struggle with.It was fun to see my sonwith so many differant reactions Thank you so much.

    Sally, from Ashburnham, Ma
    (I’m considering becoming a member)


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