Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Pushcart Takes A Hit

The NY Times reports that during a time of deepening economic crisis, The Broadway League imposed an unannounced $1 a ticket surcharge on the tickets sold at TKTS. TKTS is the ticket outlet for discount tickets sold by the Theatre Development Fund, the not-for-profit that was established to aid in the promotion of the performing arts in NYC. The League, which has decried anything that would raise ticket prices, quietly imposed the surcharge/fee/restoration charge on those patrons at the lower end of the economic scale; those who patiently wait in line in all kinds of weather to see what discount tickets are available. Three months later, when the state considered a restoration of the amusement tax, Rocco Landesman, the nominee for Chairman of the NEA, plead "pity the poor workingman" in arguing against the tax in front of a legislative hearing on the tax proposals, saying that ticket price increases will cause shows to close, restaurants to fail and frogs to fall from the sky. The League, which according to tax returns spends 30% of its revenue on salaries, claims that the fee is for "added value for theatergoers", educational programs and web sites. League member dues, which make up about half of the Leagues $8 million revenue, will go up by 10%. The source of the additional 10% was not disclosed but it is unlikely that in these troubled times, the theatre patron will see ticket prices drop.

I fail to see how raising the cost of a ticket will add value to theatre-goers on a budget. It’s also interesting how we’ve gotten to “the hard-working men and women employed by Broadway” from "Our goal is simple: to pay for workers we need and for work that is actually performed."

The last surcharge became a war chest. Who's next?

No comments: