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Festive Forecast

Examining the current state of the 2021/22 holiday season for the performing arts in North America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland


August 31, 2021
TRG Arts and Purple Seven by David Brownlee and Eric Nelson



Executive Summary – Key Findings:

  • Data from 372 CRMs of arts venues paint a challenging picture of trading for the crucial festive period in all territories.
  • Ticket sales and revenue is on average pacing behind 2019, but not for all organizations.
  • The biggest falls in sales have been in the groups market.
  • If sales for 2021/22 replicate the trajectory of 2019/20, final like-for-like sales will fall by over $65 million in North America and £32 million in the U.K. and Republic of Ireland.

North America:

  • By the end of February 2021 advance ticket sales and revenue for The Nutcracker and other ‘blockbuster’ lyric productions to be staged from December 6, 2021 to January 12, 2022 were tracking behind performance in February 2019.
  • In 2019/20 the 21 productions in this category collectively sold over 554K tickets worth $42 million. By the end of June 2019 they had already sold 12% of tickets and taken 14% of final revenue. If 2021/22 follows the same trajectory as 2019/20, ticket sales will reduce by 395K and revenue will fall by $32.6 million.
  • Average Ticket Price achieved (ATP) is down from 2019/20, and the collapse in sales is most pronounced in the market for groups, particularly groups of over 50.
  • The current number of other productions on sale with at least 10 performances is down 68% from 2019/20.
  • If ticket sales follow the same trajectory as 2019/20, aggregate box office for the season will fall by $32.9 million.
  • While aggregate sales are currently extremely concerning for the crucial 2021/22 holiday period, some U.S. and Canadian organizations are performing very well. 10% were outperforming their 2019/20 advance sales in the middle of July.

United Kingdom and Ireland:

  • By the end of December 2020 advance ticket sales for 2021/22 pantomime were 95,000 higher than the prior year and aggregate revenue up £3.4 million. However, this ‘postponement boost’ was short lived. By the end of January 2021 aggregate sales were tracking behind by over 55,000 and revenue lagging by £133k.
  • By the end of June 2021 this gap had grown to 311,000 tickets and £5.8 million.
  • In 2019/20 the 119 pantomimes in this study collectively sold just over 3 million tickets in the value of £65.4 million. By the end of June they had already sold 27% of final tickets and taken 25% of final revenue. If 2021/22 follows the same trajectory, ticket sales will reduce by 1.3 million and revenue will fall by £22.7 million.
  • While Average Ticket Price achieved (ATP) is up from 2019/20, there has been a collapse in the market for groups of over 50.
  • The Nutcracker and other ‘blockbuster’ lyric productions to be staged from December 6, 2021 to January 12, 2022 are performing better than pantomime in the UK.
  • At the end of June 2021 aggregate ticket sales and revenue were similar to what had been achieved by June 2019.
  • ATP was performing strongly and there was growth in group sales.
  • The current number of other productions on sale with at least 10 performances is down 75% from 2019/20.
  • If ticket sales follow the same trajectory as 2019/20, aggregate box office for the season will fall by £10.9 million.
  • While aggregate sales are currently extremely concerning for the crucial 2021/22 holiday period, some U.K. and Irish organizations are performing very well. 20% were outperforming their 2019/20 advance sales in the middle of July.

“After 2020’s largely ‘cancelled’ celebrations, it might have been expected that that the 2021/22 season would be a bumper one for the performing arts venues in North America, fuelled by pent-up demand. Clearly early signs are generally not positive, but with 10% of organizations pacing ahead of 2019 the picture is not entirely bleak. In the U.K. we are observing strong early performance of ‘blockbuster’ productions this Christmas, demonstrating that those producers and venues making an investment in marketing are seeing a return on it. There’s still a long way to go and with concerted action in every venue and collectively across the industry, this Christmas could still be a good one for theatres.

Jill Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, TRG Arts




Download the UK Press Release
Download the North America Press Release


TRG Arts and Purple Seven have published a number of studies on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the arts and culture sector:


About the COVID-19 Benchmark Dashboard

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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.


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