Case Study

Success Story | Setting the Stage: Pricing Strategies for PAC NYC’s Debut Season

Jennifer Sowinski Nemeth

Senior Consultant & Analyst

Jennifer enjoys working with arts and culture clients to help them increase revenue and grow audience through data-driven strategies including pricing studies, venue re-scaling, customer behavior analyses, and segmentation.
March 26, 2024

The Project

In early 2023, the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) was preparing for its inaugural season as a major international cultural institution in the heart of a revived Lower Manhattan. The building, then still under construction, is a highly configurable space with seating arrangements ranging in size from under 100 seats to 700+.

The programming at PAC NYC includes everything from dance to theater, music to opera, and everything in between. All of this led to a unique challenge: setting ticket pricing for a huge variety of seat maps and performance types at a venue that had no historical data and no existing audience base.

JCA Arts Marketing was honored to be brought in as consultants on such an exciting project and jumped in to guide PAC NYC staff in making pricing decisions for the 2023–24 season.

The Approach

This project took place over three phases. The first phase of this project involved conducting thorough survey research with our partners at Baker Richards. Since we did not have historical data to tell us what prices audiences were willing to pay, we knew we would need to rely on surveys to understand price sensitivity in the market. To do this, we undertook a complex combination of conjoint analyses, studying variation in willingness to pay by artform, performance type, subject matter, day of week, and performance start time.

The second phase of the process was market research to understand overall trends in the NYC performing arts market, the composition of the arts-going audience, and trends in ticket purchasing behavior, including channels used, discount options, and third-party sellers. We also researched PAC NYC’s peers in the industry to ensure that pricing and marketing strategies would be aligned with the overall market. This process included internet research along with many interviews with our network of clients and colleagues in the industry.

The third phase of the project was preparing pricing recommendations for PAC NYC’s opening season. Preparation for this phase included compiling all of the research from phases one and two, as well as a site visit and working with PAC NYC’s in-house VR technology to zero in on the optimal recommendations for pricing and scaling.

The Results

As a result of our research, JCA Arts Marketing recommended starting pricing and venue scaling for each performance programmed in PAC NYC’s inaugural season. We also established a pricing system the organization could apply to future performances, both within the current year and beyond. This involved determining optimal price ranges by art form and then defining additional tiering of prices within each art form.

The pricing structure was complex enough to encompass the wide range and breadth of programming at the center while also being simple enough for staff to use efficiently. The JCA Arts Marketing team also recommended discounting, dynamic pricing strategies, and a membership program offering early access to tickets.

“As a start-up organization, it was paramount that we remain nimble and mission-oriented,” said Khady Kamara Nunez, Executive Director of PAC NYC. “We relied on JCA’s knowledge of the marketplace through the process and are thankful for their expertise.”

PAC NYC staff are now more than halfway through their opening season and have been learning and adjusting along the way.

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