2008 Holiday Culture Revenues Improved

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Poll Finds Improvement in 2008 Holiday Arts and Culture Ticket Revenues During Nation's Worsening Economy

In a period of unprecedented economic challenges, 56.4% of arts and cultural events staged between Thanksgiving and the end of 2008 produced revenues equal to or greater than 2007 levels, according to a tracking poll completed January 9, 2009.

Holiday ticket revenues were equal to 2007 for 9.8% of poll participants while 46.6% reported revenue increases and 43.6% said holiday ticket income declined from 2007 levels.

The TRG/Patron Technology 2008 Arts Industry Holiday Performance Report is a first-time effort to provide a marketplace overview for arts and cultural organizations, many of which derive a significant portion of their annual ticket revenues from holiday events.

The poll was developed and fielded by arts consulting firm Target Resource Group (TRG) and technology company Patron Technology. The study team was led by principals of TRG.

Poll questions focused on revenues and included factors that tend to impact revenue generation. The poll asked participants to report 2008 revenue results and similar metrics for 2007, contrasting the current marketplace with the previous, less economically challenging holiday season.

The poll showed that most respondents who achieved 2008 holiday revenue equal to or above 2007 levels shared several operational practices in common.

  • No change in the number of holiday events in 2008. 87% said they staged the same number of events in 2008 as in 2007, indicating similar revenue opportunity in both years.
  • No cuts in marketing budgets for 2008 holiday events. 87% reported they invested the same or more in 2008 holiday events compared to 2007.
  • 2008 Holiday marketing began before the worst economic outcomes occurred. By October 2008, 68% already had begun selling and their patrons had been purchasing holiday event tickets.

Severe weather, always a factor that can negatively impact holiday ticket revenues, appeared to have affected poll organizations in the Pacific Northwest where 58% reported 2008 holiday revenue declines over 2007.    

In only one other region, the Midwest, did most respondents (52%) report holiday revenues lower than they achieved in 2007.

The study group examined data from several categories of arts and culture organizations that stage holiday events. Of all poll respondents: 40% staged a symphonic, choral or other classical music performance. Another 32.5% presented a theatrical production, and 12.5% more staged dance.

Another 15% of all responding organizations produced a variety of types of events -- from museum attractions and one-evening performances to jazz and family-oriented variety shows -- that did not aggregate into a specific art form category.

Responding organizations' operating budgets also varied widely, ranging from less than $1 million (41% of all respondents) to over $30 million.

To collect data for the 2008 Arts Industry Holiday Performance Report TRG and Patron Technology fielded an online questionnaire to 9,131 email contacts representing an estimated 7,370 organizations nationwide. Results are based on the 320 responses returned by January 9, 2009.

For the full report, go to: http://patrontechnology.com/elearning/2008holidayreport

Patron Technology, Inc., (http://www.patrontechnology.com), an online marketing software and consulting company, serves the arts and not-for-profit industries with cutting-edge technology and e-marketing expertise. The company strives to revolutionize arts marketing by enabling organizations to maximize the potential of marketing and communications on the Internet. The company's main product, PatronMail, is a Web-based e-mail marketing system used by over 1,500 institutions in 49 states and nine foreign countries.

Target Resource Group (TRG) (http://www.trgarts.com) is a data-driven consulting company that, since its founding in 1995, has worked with arts and cultural organizations to help grow larger sustainable patronage and revenue. TRG clients span North America and the industry - orchestras, performing arts centers, festivals, museums, as well as dance, opera, theater, and choral companies in the United States and Canada. From the firm's ongoing study of patron transactions, TRG has developed a unique lens through which to better understand arts and cultural consumer behavior and market demand. In addition to its client work, TRG serves as a resource to America's arts and culture industry through frequent presentations to and workshops for arts service organizations, cultural alliances and communities.


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Mindi Rayner

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