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COVID-19 Sector Benchmark: Insight Report September 2020

September 30, 2020
TRG Arts and Purple Seven by David Brownlee and Eric Nelson for TRG Arts and Purple Seven

COVID-19 and the Performing Arts –
Six Months After Closure


Executive Summary – Key Findings

  • Data from 288 CRMs shows that the impact on ticket sales from COVID-19 not only continues but worsens.
  • During the six months since venue closure in North America ticket revenues have fallen by 84% and in the U.K. by 91% compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Despite strong performance at the start of the pandemic, funds raised from individual giving have declined by 24% in N.A. and 63% in the U.K. from the equivalent 2019 period.
  • If venues were to be able to fully re-open around Christmas and the new year, many would struggle to make up for current low advance sales for these months.
  • The picture for March 2021 and beyond looks brighter, but this will only remain the case if organizations can confidently invest in marketing activities to build on strong long-term advance sales.

North America

  • In the period from March 16 to September 15, 2020, the number of tickets sold fell 83% and box office income fell 84% compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Across the six-month period the trend has worsened. Comparative sales in August and September were only a third of what was achieved in March and April.
  • While the number of gifts made has risen compared with the same period in 2019, individual giving income has fallen by almost a quarter.
  • The largest comparative decreases are in June, July and August.
  • Compared to last year, advance tickets are 67% and revenues 89% of 2019 levels for the period from December 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. Strong long-term advances are being fuelled by the rescheduling of shows from 2020 to 2021.

U.K.

  • In the period from March 16 to September 15, 2020, the number of tickets sold fell 92% and box office income fell 91% compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Comparative sales increased throughout July and to the middle of August. This initial recovery has not been sustained and recent weeks sales reflect the average for the period.
  • The number of gifts given has fallen by 46% and cumulative philanthropic revenue has reduced by 63%, principally due to a fall in gifts of over £10,000.
  • Compared to last year, advance tickets are 75% and revenues 85% of 2019 levels for the period from December 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. Strong long-term advances are being fuelled by the rescheduling of shows from 2020 to 2021.

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TRG Arts is continually studying the impact of COVID-19 on the resiliency of the arts and cultural sector.

COVID-19 International Sector Benchmark studies live transactional data from across the globe. See your organization's near real-time sales and giving data in your Dashboard and understand the effects of COVID-19 on your operations against a benchmark of similar organizations. Over 400 arts organizations are using the Dashboard to understand how audiences are responding to their ticketing and giving campaigns.

Participation is Free: Register Today
Download the UK Press Release Download the North American Press Release

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts through our partnership with SMU DataArts.

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