This brief summary shows an overview of Audience Finder sales data over the last five financial years (2015/16 to 2019/20).

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Who is this based on?

The summary uses a consistent cohort of 304 organisations. That means it’s based on organisations:

  • Who have data in Audience Finder for each year.
  • Whose data has also been artform coded.

This is useful because it also means that any data that they think shouldn’t be used for reporting has been excluded (this could be for tickets they sell for other organisations, or for non-ticket sales, such as car parking, restaurant and café sales, for example). As a result, we can be confident that any changes in the overall figures are strictly because of changes to relevant ticket sales.

This cohort contains good coverage of Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), with 160 of them included. Since participation in Audience Finder – where possible – is a condition of funding for NPOs, we can be confident that this gives good coverage of these key, publicly-funded organisations. The similar number of non-NPOs included also shows that this group covers much of the wider sector as well.

What does it tell us?

We’ve looked at:

  • Overall trends in performances, income and tickets.
  • The relationship between them (e.g. showing that average audiences per performance have got smaller, whilst the average income per ticket has increased).
  • The types of tickets sold, whether listed as full-price, discounted or part of an offer.

Key findings:

  • We have seen a shift across the five year period towards more full-price tickets.
  • Despite rising by more than inflation from 2015/16 to 2016/17, ticket prices have since fallen behind the inflation rate, so that overall they cost about the same in real terms in 2019/20 as they did in 2015/16*.
  • The proportion of sales at full price has risen. This suggests that – for the real terms average price paid to have stood still – the ‘full-price’ itself must in fact have slipped. Otherwise, more full-price tickets would have meant a real terms increase in income.
  • Coupled with a substantial increase in the number of performances, this suggests a sector that is working ever harder (increasing activity, holding down the list price, maximising the proportion of full price sales) for the same out-turn.
  • This was a challenging position from which to enter a crisis

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*When noting the gradually rising cost of tickets, we’ve also factored in the Retail Price Index for each of the past five years (based on the September of each financial year, from the Office of National Statistics, series MM23). Including this ‘real’, rather than ‘nominal’, comparison lets us see whether ticket prices have risen as overall prices have risen (and therefore only appear to have gone up because a pound is effectively worth less than it was), or whether it is ‘really’ more expensive.

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