Ballet audiences are earlier bookers than contemporary or world dance audiences!

Research by Audiences London shows that from September 2009 up to August 2010, the largest chunk of booking transactions for contemporary or world dance events in London occurred between 2 and 7 days ahead of the performance date (21% for contemporary dance; 16% for world dance), while ballet audiences were most likely to book between 21 and 60 days ahead of the performance date (22% of all transactions for ballet events).

Could this mean that programming for contemporary or world dance is riskier than ballet, or that audiences are more spontaneous or undecided when it comes to booking for these two artforms? Or do audiences feel they ought to book further ahead for ballet performances? And what role do marketing schedules play? What’s your view?

Source: Snapshot London 2009/10 Benchmark.

3 Responses to “Ballet audiences are earlier bookers than contemporary or world dance audiences!”

  1. Chantal Says:

    This has more to do with the booking systems in place for the different dance styles.

    Not having access to the source for this article, I don’t know how large a part Royal Opera House has in these figures, but they release tickets on a season-by-season basis, which means that on the day they are released, there are thousands upon thousands of people trying to book tickets – either for specific casts, days or even seats. (On the last release day, it took me over 5 hours to get into the website to look for tickets). If people do not do this, then there is a good chance they will not get the tickets they want; as an example, Ballet Black’s recent run at Royal Opera House sold out within several days – around five months in advance.

    I’ve noticed that shows have started selling more quickly at Sadler’s Wells, the largest dance venue, where people will need to book several months in advance to get specific seats, and some shows are close to selling out that far in advance.

    At The Place, especially with the recent (but very long overdue) price increase, early booking is essential to ensure getting one of the cheapest tickets, but otherwise there is no impact on seating, so shows will sell more slowly.

    Another factor to consider is that contemporary dance shows are often publicised quite late, i.e. not long before the actual performance, so of course this will have an impact on when tickets will be sold.

    I can’t talk for other dance styles, but I assume that the venue and marketing play large roles in when tickets are made available to the public, and indeed when they are publicised.

    Assuming that the ballet statistics are drawn from ROH, it only takes checking Twitter on the day tickets are released to quickly understand why tickets are bought so far in advance!

  2. Alison Says:

    I think this has very little to do with the personalities of theatre goers of different dance genres and their spontaneity in booking tickets.

    The size of the company plays a role in how far in advance their tour schedule is booked and advertised. Small to medium scale companies, a category where more contemporary companies fall into than ballet, will differ in management of this which will impact on when tickets are available as bigger companies will have their tour schedule known much further in advance, particularly if they are bound by regular funding. Moreover many of the bigger companies have greater funds to promote their work, and as mentioned above, the publicity of the work has a potential impact on the earlier sales.

    I’d also like to draw attention to the time frames quoted in the article – if 22% of sales for ballet tickets occur between 21 and 60 days this means 68% of sales occur either up to 21 days before or more than 60 days in advance, which is a considerable amount of sales. It would be easier to clarify the questions posed at the end of the article if consistent time frames were described for the sales of each type of ticket.

  3. Alison Says:

    I think this has very little to do with the personalities of theatre goers of different dance genres and their spontaneity in booking tickets.

    The size of the company plays a role in how far in advance their tour schedule is booked and advertised. Small to medium scale companies, a category where more contemporary companies fall into than ballet, will differ in management of this which will impact on when tickets are available as bigger companies will have their tour schedule known much further in advance, particularly if they are bound by regular funding. Moreover many of the bigger companies have greater funds to promote their work, and as mentioned above, the publicity of the work has a potential impact on the earlier sales.

    I’d also like to draw attention to the time frames quoted in the article – if 22% of sales for ballet tickets occur between 21 and 60 days this means 68% of sales occur either up to 21 days before or more than 60 days in advance, which is a considerable amount of sales. It would be easier to clarify the questions posed at the end of the article if consistent time frames were described for the sales of each type of ticket.


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