A while ago, I wrote about the need for a recalibration of expectations when it comes to pricing of tickets. I said that we would be doing our bit by trying to bring forward prices that might help that process.
Take a look at the link below, which takes you to our seat and price plan for 2015
Price plan 2015
Many of you will notice, before anything else, I suspect, that our Inspire seats have increased by £2. I also expect this might make some of you cross. But you should go on to notice that we have reduced all of our other prices, except for Aida which remains the same as prices in 2014. Some have reduced by up to 28%. Before anybody points out that rarities and "harder sells" benefit most, I would remind them that when we last produced L'amore dei tre Re in the same capacity theatre, we were very close to adding an extra performance.
As many of our patrons come to more than one show, in groups, these reductions represent quite a significant collective saving.
The piece I referred to above addressed the issue of audience expectation and the habit of waiting for discounts. OHP has for years been achieving season capacities in the high nineties percentage so it isn't one of our driving issues, but there is no question that our patrons felt the pinch in 2014 - we conducted extensive research into it and the results were pretty clear. This is our response to that.
Of course, this then begs the question of the rise in the Inspire seats. Accessible pricing throughout the arts world is a common thing now, but we give around ten percent of our seats at £17 or entirely free. This has become something of a "given" at OHP and what is often forgotten is that the £17 seats are subsidised, decent seats, as opposed to cheap, "bad" seats. Accessibility is what we are famed for of course, but that doesn't make us immune to criticism, nor does it attract particular praise or recognition either; ironically people still attack OHP for elitism or accuse us of corporate cronyism.
The Inspire and free seats for young and old are increasingly difficult to provide and recruit sponsors for and we try to find ways to adapt the business model to maintain them. Obviously, if a generous soul out there wants to chuck some dosh into the pot, we will welcome that! Bringing the lowest and highest prices closer together is one way of adapting our financial plans because it means, we hope, that more people will visit more often - there is nothing secretive about that. Equally, the issue of ticket discounting is one that the industry has to address, and we will be conducting no such discounting in 2015. The idea, I suppose, is that we offer a fair deal for a fair product: I am sure we can find plenty of examples of entertainment that costs far more, but isn't criticised for it.
Kate Bush at £130 a pop, anyone?
Footnote; in case there is any suspicion that the increase in Inspire pays for the other discounts....the value of income from the price rise in Inspire seats equates to approximately £4,000. For the red seat category in Trittico alone, the reduction equates to around £8,000. Multiply that across the whole range and season and you will realise these are real reductions.