• Paper: Pay-What-You-Want Ticket Pricing for Nonprofit Theaters

    By: Trent Anderson, MFA/MBA '19

    By Trent Anderson, Bianca Rodriguez and Nate Silver

    The theater landscape is changing; in a technological world with entertainment at everyone’s fingertips, competition for audiences is at an all-time high. Nonprofit theaters are especially struggling in this climate. In 2016, 37.4% of seats per performance were empty, correlated with an 8.7% decline in attendance since 2005. To offset the decrease in earned revenue as a result of these declining attendance rates, theaters have increased their ticket prices, on average, by 29%.1 Theaters, recognizing these increased prices can alienate even more audience members, have begun to experiment with alternative pricing models like offering discounts to certain populations, making tickets more accessible via apps, and holding same-day lotteries for cheaper tickets. While these endeavors have proven viable with large theaters, many small nonprofits have not had the same success.

    Instead of raising prices or offering steep discounts, some theaters are forgoing pricing all together; they are choosing to adopt the innovative pay-what-you-want model (PWYW). In this model, audience members can, as the name states, pay what they want, whatever they want. While it may seem counterintuitive to use this as a strategy to stay economically viable, we’ll explore in this paper how theaters have come to find both economic and mission success using this approach. We’ll further identify the issues with adoption, evaluation, and how the initial success some theaters have had may be short-lived.


    Pay-What-You-Want Ticket Pricing for Nonprofit Theaters (2018) [PAPER]
    Filed in: Papers and Presentations
    Keywords: , , ,
    Added on: June 7, 2019