The critical importance of data is fresh in the news with the release of the NEA’s 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. You may have noticed in particular these dismaying findings:
“Musical play attendance saw the first significant drop since the 1985 SPPA: a 9 percent rate of decline from 2008 to 2012. Non-musical play attendance fell at a 12 percent rate over the same period.”
However, thanks to those theatres who have participated in our annual Fiscal Survey, we have some better news to report about the health of theatre attendance, at least for some of our Member Theatres. Rather than a generational shift away from live performance, our Theatre Facts 2012 (released last week) shows a much smaller decline in attendance over that 5-year period, suggesting a correlation to the impact of the recession.
For example, rather than a 9 or 12% drop in attendance, Theatre Facts 2012 shows only a 1.8% loss for our Trend Theatres (those that have participated in each of the past 5 years). In fact, Theatre Facts 2012 actually shows attendance rising in each of the last two years, after a significant drop in 2009 that may be primarily attributed to the financial shocks of the recession. We are analyzing the differences in methodologies and findings between these two surveys, and will share further discoveries with you.
We’ll also be discussing Theatre Facts 2012 at the Fall Forum, and I encourage you to register now. As you can see, we’ll have plenty to talk about!