Since the 60s live audiences haven’t really sustained much of anything. The economic infrastructure that creates ‘sustainability’ for Classical Music, the Sports Industry, and the Pop Music Industry since the post WWII economic boom in the US has had much more to do with the growth of all three of these fields.
Foundations and donors make up the difference for ticket sales (i.e. audience contribution) for Classical Music; Broadcast Licensing makes up the lion’s share of the even more dismal proportion of gate revenue (i.e. audience contribution) for the Sports Industry; and the Recording Industry has done more for propping up pop Superstars than live touring (i.e. ticket paying audience contribution) has given the huge difference between total revenue earned by the former as opposed to the latter.
I just read a piece by Frank Bures that outlines all the reasons that Richard Florida is just plain wrong about his ideas of the profitability that comes with creating a “Creative Class” heaven of a city. I’d posted a couple of blogs about Portland in relation to Florida’s ideas in the past but neither of those mentioned the research that Bures’ piece brings up showing how wrong Florida’s idea are.
A few select quotes from the piece:
What was missing, however, was any actual proof that the presence of artists, gays and lesbians or immigrants was causing economic growth, rather than economic growth causing the presence of artists, gays and lesbians or immigrants. Some more recent work has tried to get to the bottom of these questions, and the findings don’t bode well for Florida’s theory. In a four-year, $6 million study of thirteen cities across Europe called “Accommodating Creative Knowledge,” that was published in 2011, researchers found one of Florida’s central ideas—the migration of creative workers to places that are tolerant, open and diverse—was simply not happening.
I’m sifting through a number of studies and economic data regarding Sports finances in preparation for a case study comparing revenue contributions for sports and performing arts organizations and there are far too many interesting things to not mention, if not post a properly cited blog post on (that will come a bit later).
The received wisdom from the Chicken Little Think Tank (the “Classical Music is failing” camp) that with declining revenues from ticket sales (sometimes referred to as “performance income” or more erroneously, “earned income”) as a proportion of total revenue for classical music organizations and the [purportedly] declining audience (as well as the increasing median age of the audience) there’s this notion that the industry must get a bigger [and younger] audience to offset the performance income gap (the gap between performance revenue and operating costs).
The figures (depending on whom you ask and which studies you look at) show a steady decline from roughly 7o% or 90% of ticket revenue covering total expenses (back in 1937) to between 35% and 40% of ticket revenues covering expenses today (less for Opera and Ballet). In other words, the performance income gap is increasing showing us that there are structural deficits built into what is practically a service industry which cannot have an increase in production to offset rising costs due to inflation. This is known as the Baumol Cost Disease.