Living Ticket, Week Three

(Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum, because the Living Ticket is climbing! Post by August Schulenburg. Read more about the Living Ticket and Open Book programs, and then reserve your Salvage Living Ticket today.)

If you read updates from Week One and Week Two, you may remember that Week Three was looking distinctly like a make or break week for the Living Ticket. Because we launched the LT and Open Book programs two weeks late, we were tracking two weeks behind our previous ticket sales for Once Upon a Bride There Was a Forest and Jane the Plain. By Week Two, we were starting to catch up to Bride, but we were not making gains on the better-attended Jane, and without reaching that level of attendance, there’d be no way to make our Current budget goals, let alone our Minimum or Living goals.

So, how did we do with Week Three?

164 Living Tickets reserved!

We very nearly tripled the amount of LTs reserved in a single week–not bad. Where that number becomes especially energizing is in comparison with past shows: we have now passed Bride and Jane in tickets reserved by Monday of Opening Week!

For Monday of opening, Bride was at 93 tickets reserved and Jane was at 126. From an accessibility standpoint, this is a significant gain, and based on giving levels, some of these folks are people who might very well have felt priced out by an $18 ticket.

Equally promising is the total amount donated as part of Living Ticket in comparison to the ticket sales number: at this same moment, Bride was at $1,284 and Jane was at $1,269 (again, the more aggressive discounting for Jane led to greater attendance but lower ticket income). For Salvage, we are at $2,265 in donations–almost $1k more than either prior show.

However, there are still caveats and concerns. While some people are giving at the Minimum and Living wage recommended levels, the average is $14 a person, well below the $31 average needed to make even our Current budgetary goals. As an additional challenge, the site-specific nature of the play has forced us to reduce our available seats from 40 per show to 35, meaning the numbers cited in the Open Book budgets are now lower than they’d need to be to reach those various budgets.

Additionally, while we’re ahead of attendance overall, our opening week attendance is still problematic. For both Bride and Jane, we gave discounts geared toward building first week attendance–that critical time when reviewers are there and the shows is finding its legs–and those discounts (and the good will of our core community) were successful. That made the challenge for those shows the second week.

Now, we’re seeing the reverse, with that troublesome second week going surprisingly well, but our opening week looking light (18 for Wednesday, 12 for Thursday, 17 for Opening Night Friday). On the positive side, our Opening Week Saturday is sold out! Or, whatever we call a show with no seats left when the tickets aren’t sold…it’s been fun adapting our language and thinking to the new values and processes of the Living Ticket!

A note about that full-up Saturday: part of that was driven by a student group that all reserved their Living Tickets at the same time…on April Fools’ Day. Seeing a bunch of new-to-Flux names all reserving LTs without making a donation in rapid sequence on April Fools’ had me afraid that we were the victims of a prank. I was depressed and upset and took my fears to Facebook, where people were very supportive, and where together we learned the happy news that it was no prank but real students!

I was a little embarrassed and a whole lot relieved, and I also realized that in spite of all my personal optimisms and aspirations for the Living Ticket, I have been operating in a place of fear rooted in deep places. After hustling to make theatre for so many difficult (and joyful) years, I have survived by assuming that the worst will probably happen at least once or twice in the course of the run. The rights will fall through, the promised sound equipment will be taken away, the lights won’t work, the space will schedule another theatre’s gala in our space in the middle of our tech, the reviewers won’t like it, the people won’t come. The people won’t come.

I don’t think I realized until my Facebook outburst how deeply I’d internalized those assumptions of struggle and failure. I don’t think I knew how–in spite of all our lofty Flux rhetoric–my actual operating system has been one of managed fear and pre-emptive anxiety. I love these people and the work we do so much that I didn’t realize how many hopes I’d given up as impractical or even dangerous.

So with the gains made this past week, a new unsettling question emerges:

What if the Living Ticket actually works?

Read more about the Living Ticket and Open Book programs, and then reserve your Salvage Living Ticket today!

Leave a comment