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Signals for Optimism in the U.K. While U.S. Revenues Continue to
Revival in philanthropic revenue in both nations, but numbers of gifts down compared
to November 2019
In November 2020 performing arts organizations in the United States witnessed their worst month
yet for ticket sales since the outbreak of COVID-19. Compared to November 2019, ticket revenues
fell 96.3%. In the United Kingdom, comparative sales were down 84.6%. This was a marked
improvement over October 2020 (down 90.1%) and the best performance for comparative sales since
These monthly advance sales figures come from the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark, an initiative led by
international arts management consultants TRG Arts and U.K. arts data specialists Purple Seven.
It captures near real-time data from box office feeds of both commercial and not-for-profit
venues of all scales in the U.S. and the U.K. These sales figures have been gathered from 307
arts venues (79 in the U.S. and 228 in the U.K). The majority of the sample are theaters, but
there is also a representation of arts centers and orchestras.
“It is no surprise that the U.K. is witnessing its best month for ticket sales since March
2020 while the U.S. is seeing its worst. U.K. aggregate sales of 15% compared to November
2019 is hardly a recovery, but the trend
is in the right direction. Significant government support in the U.K. is allowing
organizations to take risks and program socially distanced events that would not otherwise
be economically viable.
More significant government support in the U.S. is required and
without it many performing arts organizations will take far longer to recover and thrive, if
they survive. Hopefully the new administration will be more willing to acknowledge the
critical economic and societal roles of arts and culture in our lives.”
Jill Robinson, CEO, TRG
The Benchmark also captures data on philanthropy from a smaller sample of not-for-profit venues.
The October COVID-19 Sector
Benchmark Insight Report revealed worrying trends in the diminishing
number and size of gifts being given in both the U.S. and the U.K. Figures for gift revenue in
November 2020 are more encouraging, with income almost matching November 2019 in the U.S. and
exceeding what was achieved the previous year by 52% in the U.K.
In both nations the revival in philanthropy has relied on a smaller number of givers giving on
average more. Numbers of givers were down 31% in the U.S. and 13% in the U.K. in November 2020
compared to the previous year.
“Leaders of cultural organizations in the U.K. have just had a particularly challenging few
weeks in a year like no other. While uncertainty remains in so many places as to whether the
Christmas show will or won’t go on, activity planned thanks to the U.K.’s Culture Recovery
Fund and the National Lottery’s
Pantomime program is clearly demonstrating pent up demand and that for so many people
Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a trip to their local theater.”
David Brownlee, Managing Director, Purple Seven
TRG Arts and Purple Seven will publish further studies on a monthly basis while the COVID-19
pandemic continues to impact the arts and culture sector. Previous Insight Reports available
About the COVID-19 Benchmark Dashboard
Purple Seven and TRG Arts continue to offer free access to the free COVID-19 Benchmark Dashboard
to organizations in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. Register here.
Expansion of the COVID-19 Benchmark Dashboard is supported in part by a grant from the National
Endowment for the Arts to SMU
DataArts, a national center for arts research and TRG Arts’
long-time partner in advancing the arts and culture sector.
Monthly Advance Ticket Sales and Gifts, 2020 v 2019
TRG Arts offers a range of free resources for cultural and arts professionals throughout the USA,
Canada, the UK and the EU to ensure the field of arts and culture thrives now and after the
TRG 30, a weekly 30-minute webinar series of crisis counsel and best practices that
attracts hundreds of executives globally each week.