Living Ticket, Closing Report (Part 1)

(Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum. Post by August Schulenburg. Read more about the Living Ticket and Open Book programs.)

First, thank you to everyone who attended and supported Salvage–it’s thanks to you that this report is going to be largely positive, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

This report on the outcomes from the inaugural run of the Living Ticket and Open Book is long overdue, in part because we’ve been so busy after the close of Salvage, preparing for the Retreat, moving forward Breathe Free, and, well, catching up on life post-production. However, this report is also late because there’s so much we want to share about the process that we’ve been waiting for open hours that may never come. So, we divide to conquer: here’s a two-part report, the first focusing on the basic numbers and main themes, the second going into greater detail about the experience itself.

When last we met, opening week had turned a major corner and we had surpassed our attendance and income for our past two productions at the same time marker. So how did things turn out?

482 out of 532 Living Tickets reserved (91% capacity) and $6,237.68 given as contributions!

In comparison, Bride had 417 tickets sold for $4,740 in total sales, and Jane the Plain had 570 tickets sold for $6,107 in income.

This is very good news for the Living Ticket: we not only filled our houses at greater capacity, with half of our shows full-up (our Living Ticket version of sold-out), but through contributions, we exceeded our income from tickets sold for the past two productions! If we’d had more seats (only 38, though we added a few partial view for very oversold performances), I expect we’d also have been able to exceed Jane at attendance numbers, since once our reviews dropped we began filling-up houses very quickly.

This is a huge deal for us–we’ve never come close to 91% capacity, and it was a joy to walk into the majority performances knowing we had a full house. We’ll do a more thorough break-down of how people gave in part two, but the accessibility goal of Living Ticket–with many people voicing gratitude for the ability to choose to attend at no or very low cost–was definitely a success. We could have possibly reached 100% capacity if we hadn’t launched the Living Ticket two weeks later than we normally open ticket sales, which led to us playing a good deal of catch up.

The fact that greater accessibility also led to greater income through contributions is a resounding affirmation of the Living Ticket…but it’s too late to bust out the champagne yet, because we fell significantly shy of our Open Book budgetary goals.

As you’ll see from Actuals-Living Ticket-Salvage-060115 we came in significantly under budget, thanks to some thrifty designers and crafty production decisions.  With our actual expenses coming in at $10,990.27 instead of the projected $12,797 of our Current Budget, this should have made it easier to reach our budgetary goal, but we still fell over $4,700 short.

That $4,700 difference is covered by $1,500 dedicated to the production from our NYSCA grant (thank you, NYSCA!), and the rest is covered from the non-Living Ticket contributed income (thank you, donors!) All of our contributors will equitably receive their $400 stipend (though not all Creative Partners may accept it, and/or some may donate it back), and we have enough to cover our Annual Retreat expenses, but not enough to head confidently into our next production without some signifiant additional fundraising.

More significantly, we came nowhere near our Minimum or Living Wage budgetary goals. So while the Living Ticket inaugural round was partially successful on both our accessibility and income goals, we have a lot of work still to do to make Flux truly sustainable.

That’s said, while it’s in our nature as Flux  Creative Partners to be relentlessly self-critical, always focusing on what didn’t work or could’ve worked better, we have to take a deep breath here and acknowledge that we took a huge risk and, in spite of all the ways it could’ve gone wrong, it worked, even if it didn’t work to the very top of budgetary dreams. More than even the gains in accessibility and income, it felt right; it felt aligned with our mission and values in a way that was tremendously energizing and satisfying. It felt like us. While I can’t confirm whether or not this will be the way Flux moves forward in perpetuity, as that’s a decision for the whole ensemble to make (and remake) at our upcoming annual Retreat, I do know something big shifted who we are, and it’s hard for me personally to imagine ever going back (you can read more on my personal take on everything here).

Part two of our report will go deeper into lessons learned and the breakdown of giving, as well as share the experience of trying to communicate a radical shift that seems simple (it’s free!) but is actually a nuanced and complex conversation (free is the wrong word, cause this work costs money and sweat!) about value that may require several years for us to get right (if such a conversation actually ever ends).

More than anything, we’re so deeply grateful for everyone who gave something to this production–in money, in time, in moral support, in social media cheerleading, and above all, in faith the Flux hadn’t lost our minds–and made this crazy dream the first big step toward a better reality.

From all of us in Flux, thank you.

Read more about the Living Ticket and Open Book programs, and give to support Flux’s work today.


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