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Press Releases

November 2020 Theater Ticket Sales: Signals for Optimism in the United Kingdom While U.S. Revenues Continue to Slide

December 10, 2020 | By TRG Arts

Revival in philanthropic revenue in both nations, but numbers of gifts down compared to November 2019

Colorado Springs, CO—December 10, 2020— 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 March 2020.

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,” said TRG Chief Executive Officer Jill Robinson. “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.”

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,” said Purple Seven Managing Director David Brownlee. “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.”

The Monthly Advance Ticket Sales and Gifts data, 2020 v 2019, are available at https://go.trgarts.com/BenchmarkInsights_Nov2020.

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 are:

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. To register visit https://go.trgarts.com/benchmark.

Expansion of the COVID-19 Benchmark Dashboard is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to SMU DataArts, a national center for arts research and TRG Arts’ long-time partner in advancing the arts and culture sector.

About TRG Arts
TRG Arts (The Results Group for the Arts) is an international, data-driven change agency consulting with arts and cultural executive leaders, marketers and fundraisers on a patron loyalty-based approach to increasing sustainable revenue. Experts in the arts sector for 25 years, TRG Arts has earned a reputation unsurpassed for achieving results and building successful business models for non-profit and commercial arts and cultural organizations. TRG Arts is an industry pioneer in areas including audience loyalty development, membership and the subscription model, and dynamic pricing. TRG Arts believes in the transformative power of arts and culture, and that positive, profound change in the business model of arts organizations can lead to artistic innovation and the ability to inspire entire communities. Visit www.trgarts.com.

About Purple Seven
Purple Seven has been working in the UK Arts sector for 16 years, analyzing audience behavior across hundreds of organizations. Purple Seven’s extensive knowledge and experience of audience trends allows them to offer an industry context to audience data that helps cultural organizations focus on the important, not just the interesting. Visit https://purplesevenanalytics.com/

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