Fall season ticket sales show promise for Michigan's arts organizations

Oct 7, 2011

Michigan’s ballet companies, theatres and opera houses are kicking off their 2011-12 season this fall, and it appears box office sales might be trending up.

Chelsea Sadler is with the Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor. She says "theaters across the country and in this area definitely saw a decline in sales and donations when the economy was really hurt a couple years. And I think that we’re now at a point where everyone’s starting to recover from that."

So much so that Sadler's theater had their most successful box office this past season - with sales up 13%. Sadler attributes the uptick in sales to better advertising and strong programming.

The Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Michigan Opera Theater, and other arts organizations have seen a pickup in single ticket sales last season compared to previous years.

As we reported last week, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is also on track to surpass the number of tickets sold before it went on strike:

Hogle projects ticket sales will be "somewhere between 75% - 78% sold on our classical concerts," compared to around 63% of tickets sold the year before the strike.

Several arts leaders are hopeful this is a sign the economy is recovering. To quote Grand Rapids Ballet director Glenn Del Vecchio: "All indications at the moment are that things feel pretty good."

But it’s not all coming up roses. It seems people are less willing to commit to a full season. Many arts groups say they’ve seen a big drop off in the number of subscriptions they’ve sold. Performance Network, which saw a 12% increase in subscription sales last season, is the exception.