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Free tickets = changed demographics?

Posted by: Rohan Preston under Theater Updated: December 11, 2012 - 11:50 AM

 

 

American theater audiences skew older and whiter than the population in general. For years, theater leaders have fretted that their form has been slow to attract diverse audiences, including young people and theatergoers of color.

Mixed Blood Theatre, which was founded by Jack Reuler (above) on Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of a beloved community, set out to change that two years ago with the introduction of its "Radical Hospitality" free admission program. Officials believe that the loss in box office income will be made up by contributions.

Audiences grew 18 percent over the 2009-2010 season and another 8 percent over 2010-2011. The growth is in diversity, Reuler said in a blog post touting the 2011-2012 numbers: "47 percent of those attending without cost were under 30. 33 percent had annual income of under $25,000. 30.3 percent were people of color. 4 percent claimed never to have been at a live play before."

Reuler said that the trend continues at the beginning of the company's 2012-2013 season. "60 percent of Radical Hospitality users are under 30, while 37 percent have incomes under $25,000 and 30 percent are people of color."
 
 

 

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