Commentary: Debunking myth that more people are buying tickets at last minute

Posted by Rick Lester on the TRG Arts blog, January 31, 2011

[People always] ask about the increased numbers of single ticket buyers making purchase decisions later and later in the sales cycle. I've heard this complaint for more than three decades.  It was never supported by data.  An opportunity to explore the issue [again] presented itself recently.  Source data came from the LA STAGE Arts Census.  We examined single ticket purchase patterns for more than 1.5 million households [in Southern California between] 2006 and 2010.  Overall, ticket order volume was relatively consistent during [this] period.  About 35% of single ticket orders occurred during the week of the performance and about half of all orders (47%) were made during the two-week period prior to performance.  However, these ratios ceased being normative during the 2008-09 season -- the year that witnessed a large decline in total orders [coinciding with the worst of the recession].  Week-of-performance sales rose from 35% to 46% and the two week ratio moved from 47% to 57%.  [However,] the actual number of orders during the final weeks of sale in 2008-09 was virtually identical to the number of orders in comparable periods for prior seasons -- that is, not more in number, just a higher proportion [to] the total.  The real story is that, at the peak of the recession, advance buyers in this large market appear to have decided to stay home -- or at least, to delay their purchase.  That created the perception of increased last minute buying, because such a high proportion of those who did buy made their purchase nearer the performance date.  In truth, however, the walk-up line was no longer and near-curtain traffic no greater than in other seasons. 


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New ways to experience the arts online...


Gulf Stage offers free downloads of theater productions from the Middle East

Posted by Lyn Gardner on The Guardian's Theatre Blog, January 31, 2011

Today, the British Council launches Gulf Stage, a new project in association with Digital Theatre, who have previously worked with the Almeida and Young Vic among others.  Gulf Stage allows audiences around the world to access filmed recordings of six productions from young companies hailing from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. All the productions have English subtitles and, unlike Digital Theatre's other productions, will be free to download for the first year.  This project is useful for several reasons. Too often companies visiting from abroad find themselves up against restrictive visa rules, and with the British Council sending so much UK theatre abroad, it's good to see them building two-way relationships.  In the past, the only way to get a taste of Arab theatre would be to travel. While these downloads are no substitute for experiencing a live performance, they offer a chance for artists, audiences and producers to make cultural links across geographical borders. In the longer term this online project may have an offline life through many different social media platforms. A Younger Theatre is involved with the project, to try and encourage engagement by young artists and audiences across the world. Maybe, as a result of Gulf Stage, we may see some of this work on our stages or UK companies will forge relationships that lead to collaboration.


Google Art Project allows online browsing of major museums' collections

Posted on, February 1, 2011

Not every art lover has the capital to travel around the globe and take in the top museums. Luckily, Google has used its "Big Brother" powers for good with the Google Art Project, which is like Google Street View for museums.  The Art Project features 17 museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Tate Britain and The National Gallery in London, Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.  Via the Art Project, users can navigate through these museums and check out more than 1,000 works of art by more than 400 artists.  Google also created an annotation feature that lets you toggle between the museum's interior and particular works of art. Artwork is also supplemented with info panels and YouTube videos.  For those who like to linger in front of pieces, every museum chose one work to be captured using "gigapixel" photo-capturing technology. One can check out these pieces in "microscope view" using Picasa to explore brushstrokes - an awesome addition for aspiring artists looking to learn.  In addition, you can create your own artwork collection, saving views of any piece. You can comment on these pieces and even share the selected works with friends.


A tiny lost treasure of ballet history has been discovered online

From The Guardian, January 31, 2011

30 seconds of the Ballets Russes dancing in 1928 [is] the only film ever found of a performance by one of the most influential and famous companies in dance history. The scrap of silent black-and-white news reel was spotted wrongly labelled in the British Pathé online archive by a dance enthusiast, and identified by Jane Pritchard, curator of the recent exhibition about the company at the V&A museum in London.  In the archive, the film of dancers on an open-air stage, against a woodland backdrop, is captioned "location of events unknown". Pritchard was able to identify it as the Ballets Russes performance in June 1928 at the annual flower festival at Montreux, Switzerland.  She has even identified the lead dancer as one of the company's handsome stars, Serge Lifar -- infamous for his outrageous scene stealing from other dancers on the stage -- and the ballet as Les Sylphides.


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Commentary: Segregation is alive and well in social media

Posted by Pepper Miller on, February 1, 2011

Take note of America's behavior on the web. Ethnic Internet users, both younger and older, are "congregating in spaces where there are people like them, or where they feel comfortable bringing people like them," says Ebele Mora of TUV Media.  Importantly, given that society penalizes those who openly discuss racial issues, these spaces provide a refuge for honest conversations that affect their communities. One black Gen Y Facebooker confessed that she frequently, temporarily blocks her white Facebook friends -- and prays they don't notice -- so that she can have open, honest discussions with her black friends.  bossip, jack and jill politics, kiss my black ads, the grio, The Root or Dime Wars [are other] popular sites that attract thousands of Black visitors.  There's a powerful black digital and social networking world going on and many marketers and digital gurus don't have a clue. The value that most of these black platforms and social networking groups provide is a comfort level not experienced in some commercial mainstream platforms. They tend to deliver a FUBU affect (For Us By Us) in that visitors feel safe to be "real", and have a closed conversation.  "In many ways, these platforms serve as virtual barbershops and beauty salons", says multicultural strategist Herb Kemp.  "People tend to use the web in the way they live," says Ahmad Islam of commonground marketing.  Makes sense, given that America is still very segregated -- blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos and other groups are primarily living, worshiping and socializing with each other. And now, as Islam indicated, this practice has transferred to the web. 

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