Prepared January 2009.
Dance/USA annually conducts a survey of member ballet companies that present Nutcrackers. The survey is fairly detailed, asking for numbers of performances, various measurements of attendance levels, total revenue from fees and ticket sales, venue capacity, and range of ticket prices.
The 2008 survey was circulated on November 24, 2008, to a wide range of member dance companies. Several clarified that they do not perform The Nutcracker. Based on best available information, it appears that 25 Dance/USA member companies with budgets over $1 million performed The Nutcracker during and near December, 2008. We received completed surveys from 18 of these 25, for a response rate of 72%. In addition, one company with a budget between $350K and $1 million also responded.
The following findings reflect data from these 19 respondents and has been compared to data from the same 19 companies for 2007 in order to illuminate whatever impacts might have occurred due to the current national financial crisis.
- Total attendance for these 19 companies declined from 714,200 to 708,800, a drop of less than 1%.
- Total ticket revenue, however, declined by nearly 2%
- A sharp increase in total complimentary or free tickets accounts for part of this discrepancy between attendance and revenue. Comp tickets increased from a total of 55,900 in 2007 to 64,300 in 2008 (a gain of 15%)
- A handful of companies showed increases in both attendance and revenue, but the majority (11 out of 19) showed decreases in both.
- Numbers of performances and numbers of seats available remained essentially constant across the two years.
Anecdotally it is clear that numerous companies offered deep discounts in the final days or weeks before the Nutcracker
performances, a factor which may also have contributed to stable attendance despite declining revenue. Though several companies had a hard time with this year’s Nutcracker
, several others actually did very well. Rumors of widespread catastrophic revenue and attendance shortfalls appear to be exaggerated.
For more information about Dance/USA's annual survey on The Nutcracker
, please contact the director of research