Media Release | Trends in Audience Behavior: Reopening Season Trends

August 30, 2022

Kay Rollinson, JCA

JCA Arts Marketing Launches New Study
Trends in Audience Behavior: Reopening Season Trends

JCA Arts Marketing, a division of JCA that helps arts and cultural organizations leverage data-driven insights to grow audiences and revenue, recently released a new study on Trends in Audience Behavior: Reopening Season Trends.

The 2021-22 season was volatile for performing arts organizations—audiences were filling halls again, but COVID continued to interfere with performances, causing many productions to cancel shows or reschedule runs. Arts organizations had many questions as they embarked on this first full season since the pandemic, especially following the first half of the season.

Questions from marketing decision-makers and executives were numerous. Is our audience going to be different? Will they literally be different people? Will there be changes in their behavior? Will there be as many, or more, audience members? How do we adjust to new behaviors? To answer these questions, JCA Arts Marketing gathered transactional data from 15 performing arts organizations using the RMA (Revenue Management Application) and conducted analysis on the data.

The resulting study focuses on audience behavior trends for performances across the 2021-22 season. Key findings include:

  • Ticket sales were down more than revenue. Relative to before the pandemic, 14% fewer seats were sold for a 17% reduction in paid capacity and 8% less revenue per performance.
  • Subscription and discount ticket sales have dropped, while full-price ticket sales have remained constant. While subscription ticket sales are down by 32% and discount tickets sales are down 21%, there has not been a change in full-price ticket sales.
  • There is no indication of increased price sensitivity amongst audiences in 2021-22 relative to pre-pandemic.
  • New audience members declined more than returning audience members. There was a 33% drop in new audience members compared to 2018-19, and only a 29% drop in returning audience members.
  • People are not buying later (closer to the performance) than pre-pandemic. On average, only 20.6% of sales came in the final week in 2021-22 compared with 24.5% in pre-pandemic seasons.

“This is just the beginning of understanding how the pandemic has affected sales trends of performing arts organizations,” said Jamie Alexander, Director of JCA Arts Marketing and co-author of the study. “Our hope is that this study provides a baseline of data for measuring ongoing change, and helps organizations make educated decisions for their programming and marketing efforts to reengage audiences in this new era.”

The full study can be found here.

JCA is the go-to nonprofit consulting firm for organizations who are building a brighter future. As the first and foremost independent consulting firm dedicated solely to the technical and operational needs of nonprofits, we strengthen organizations from the inside out by helping you increase revenue, optimize operations, improve your technology, and build lasting relationships with your target audience. Learn more at jcainc.com.

JCA Arts Marketing, a division of JCA, uses data-driven insights to help cultural institutions increase revenue, boost attendance, and grow patron value. Institutions served include museums, dance companies, opera companies, performing arts centers, symphonies, and theatres. Learn more at jcainc.com/arts-marketing.