Case Study

Study | Trends in Audience Behavior: Reopening Sales Trends

Jamie Alexander

Director, Strategy & Insights

Jamie helps cultural organizations understand the behaviors of their audiences and create data-driven strategies to continually engage them.
January 11, 2022


As in-person performances resumed across the U.S. in Fall 2021, arts marketers everywhere wondered how sales trends would differ from the pre-pandemic trends. Questions we heard time and time again from our clients included:

  • How will ticket sales compare to pre-pandemic times? If sales are down, by how much? What segments will come back, which won’t?
  • How much will patrons pay for tickets, relative to pre-pandemic?
  • Will patrons buy tickets later than before—closer to the performance?

As Fall 2021 (our “reopening season”) concludes and we enter 2022, we now are in the advantageous position of having data from this new era to start answering these questions. Though the world continues to change, we at least now have a baseline of sales trends after the pandemic shutdown to help guide our path forward.

In this study, we look at sales data from seven diverse performing arts organizations in the U.S. to give you a data-based perspective on how sales trends have or have not shifted since pre-pandemic.

We hope our findings give you additional context on which to compare what you’re seeing at your organization—and some insights as you plan your marketing strategy and sales projections for 2022.


  • Overall ticket sales for Fall 2021 were down by 27% relative to Fall 2018 and 2019. Subscription ticket sales were down 34%.
  • Price sensitivity has not increased post-reopening. Average prices and yield remain similar to pre-pandemic sales and discount ticket sales have decreased.
  • Audiences are booking closer to the performances. 45% of audiences booked within two weeks of the performances, compared to 36% pre-pandemic.

Trends in Audience Behavior: Reopening Season Trends

Read our new study—Trends in Audience Behavior: Reopening Season Trends—on audience behavior from the complete 2021–22 season. We gathered transactional data from 15 of our nonprofit performing arts clients using the RMA and conducted analysis on the change in audience behavior relative to before the pandemic. The study includes our recommendations for adjusting marketing strategies for next season and beyond.