Ideas for new revenue streams...


Idea #1: 50-cent ticket fee to build a private 'National Endowment' fund

Barry Hessenius, WESTAF blog, 6/12/11

What if every [arts] organization were to voluntarily tack on an additional 50 cents to each ticket price, and earmark that money to a voluntary Endowment fund? What if everyone did that for five years? And what if we conservatively invested that money to grow that fund for [those] five years before even considering how to spend it? How much might it grow to? Enough to constitute our own (small) National Endowment?  Would an additional fifty cents [per ticket] negatively impact overall sales? I doubt it. Would it be burdensome to do the accounting? Not really.  And could we leverage that effort into donations to beef it up even more? It could benefit everybody, in all kinds of ways - not the least of which would be to involve ourselves (working together) in taking some small measure of control of our destiny.   What would we do with the funds? It could be another source of operational support. Or allocated to real advocacy to help finally secure sustainable, predictable government funding. Maybe it could fund public awareness campaigns, or be used to incubate real collaborative projects. It could help in providing professional development training to all our leadership. Maybe it could be an emergency fund to keep alive certain efforts?  Maybe it could fund new joint projects with the private sector that would grow our tenuous relationship with business and industry. Maybe it could help to convince parents of the value of arts education. There are any number of needs of the sector that are currently unfunded.


Idea #2: Earn fees managing another company's theater

The Miami Herald, 5/27/11

Genting Malaysia Berhad, Asia's third largest casino company, paid $236 million for 13.9 acres of waterfront land owned by The Miami Herald, a landmark deal that would remake the northern edge of downtown Miami. Genting's plans would be a huge boost for the area north of downtown Miami.  Mike Eidson, chairman of the adjacent Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, said he strongly supported the Asian company's plans, saying it will help sustain the tax-funded performance hall. He declined to say whether the Arsht board would support bringing gambling to the neighborhood.  He also said Genting plans to build a 700-seat theater on its property that the Arsht center would manage, a new revenue source for the nonprofit as well as a venue for hosting plays and other performances that aren't conducive to the Arsht Center's stages. The resort's garages would give dedicated parking for the Arsht Center, Eidson said, solving a persistent worry for the downtown venue.  He credited the Arsht Center with sparking the kind of urban revival that attracted Genting's investment  "If we hadn't built the Arsht Center, we wouldn't have the opportunity to do something like this,'' he said.


Idea #3: Monetize auditions

Drew McManus, Adaptistration blog, 6/16/11

No, I'm not talking about charging application fees or any other type of unethical practice that does nothing more than nickel-and-dime audition candidates.  [But] you already know that one of the more common requests from audition candidates is to be scheduled on certain days or times.  Entertaining special requests can turn into a tremendous time suck for the audition coordination staff.  Imagine an online system that allows candidates to reserve a spot in a specific audition block via a nonrefundable fee on a first-come, first-served basis through a completely automated system. This is precisely what is being put into place this fall as a feature for The Venture Platform.  I can hear all of the doubts already, and there are answers to each potential deal breaker.  If the calculations aren't already turning over in your head, let me get you started. If there are 132 audition candidates and 40 (approx. 30%) make an audition reservation at $35 each, that's approx. $1,360 after PayPal fees for doing no extra work via something that was going to happen anyway. Plus your audition candidates receive an improved audition experience and your ops staff spend less time preparing the audition. Granted, we're not talking about a revenue stream that's going to turn back the tide of bankruptcy but when there's money just laying there on the ground, why not reach down and pick it up?


Idea #4: Charge a premium for theater seats that move with the action

Omaha World-Herald, 5/20/11

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" can be a very moving film.  Literally. You just have to pick the right seat.  This weekend, in time for Capt. Jack Sparrow's latest swashbuckling exploits, Rave Westroads [movie theater] is unveiling 46 new D-Box motion system seats that move and vibrate along with what's happening on the screen.  Rave is one of the first 70 in the world to offer the technology. The seats pitch, roll and heave -- up and down, forward and back, and side to side. You can choose a low, medium or high setting, depending on just how much you want to feel.  The pleasure of feeling the earth move will cost you an extra $8. The seats are yet another gimmick to lure moviegoers. So far this year, ticket sales are down by nearly 14% nationwide.  D-Box joins 3-D films, rocker-recliners, enhanced concessions and full-menu restaurant and bar service at your seatas options area moviegoers have now that they didn't havea few years ago.  With so few theaters offering D-Box, it's too early to predict how it will do. 3-D, which had its early naysayers, has become widely available in just three years. D-Box could follow that model, or it could go the way of Cinerama, Panavision, scratch-and-sniff cards and drive-ins.

D-Box has surveyed customers who saw movies in its chairs, and 91% said they thought they were worth the price.  Guy Marcoux, VP of marketing for D-Box,  says D-Box will generate a new revenue stream for the movie industry. The theater buys the seats, and the $8 surcharge is split three ways: D-Box, the theater and the movie studio. 


Idea #5: Incorporate arts attendance into health care coverage?

David Stabler, The Oregonian, 5/25/11

No surprise that cultural events can mellow people out, but a new study found some differences between men and women who attend cultural events. Norwegian men apparently felt better when they were spectators while Norwegian women preferred doing rather than watching.  "For men, passive activities such as taking in a concert or museum exhibition are associated with an upbeat mood and better health, it found.  "For women, though, the link is active, in that they were less likely to feel anxious, depressed or feel unwell if they played music or created art."  The information comes from researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who surveyed 50,797 adults living in Norway's Nord-Trondelag County.  Wealth and education were not an issue, the study found.  "After adjusting for relevant confounding factors" -- including socio-economic status -- "it seemed that cultural participation was independently associated with good health, a low depression score and satisfaction with life dependent on gender," the study's authors write.  Maybe the next step is to incorporate arts events into health care coverage. A new revenue stream for arts groups?

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