An annual survey of 215 U.S. regional theatres found that attendance and income were up in 1995, but that contributions were not rising as quickly.
Conducted by Theatre Communications Group, the survey reports that 18,617,787 tickets were sold for 56,608 performances of 2,646 productions at the 215 theatres, earning $281,239,850. Add another $163,144,324 in contributions from corporations and individuals, that brought the total income for the theatres to more than $444 million.
The theatres employed 32,537 people.
In a smaller survey group of 66 theatres that had supplied more detailed information for five years or more, earned income (i.e. tickets, concessions, etc.) in 1995 was $165 million, up from $147 million in 1994. The number of people attending shows rose from 8.3 million to 8.8 million in the same one-year period. Contributed income rose only from $97.8 million to $99.6 million.
Among other highlight of the report: * "Touring revenue increased a remarkable 81.4 percent in 1995."
* Revenue form booked-in events -- work of outside arts groups presented by member theatres -- "increased 4.1 percent in 1995, even though total attendance [of these events] decreased sharply."
* Corporate contributions "registered a 2.8 percent increase in 1995, the second consecutive years of increases after three years of decreased or flat support."
* Sixty-two of the 66 tracked theatre received state arts agency grants in 1995. Two-thirds of these reported stable or increased funding, as support from state and arts agencies increased 5.4 percent.
* But "Total federal support for tracked theatres decreased 6.9 percent in 1995."
* Income increased quickest at the largest theatres and midsize theatres, but fell most sharply at the smallest theatres.
The report concludes, "The American public needs an alternative to the increasingly disembodied world provided by the established electronic media and the emerging computerized terrain of the Internet . . . Since ancient times, theatre has offered communities the richest environment in which to gather for pleasure and debate , using language , music, movement, design and the irreplaceable flesh-and-blood presence of the actor to serve as a medium -- in one place, in real time -- for the fullest expression of an audience's fears and desires."
Who could argue? But the report fails to examine the possibility that one medium could be used to stimulate the other.
For copies of the report, send $4, plus $1 for postage and handling, to Theatre Communications Group, 355 Lexington Ave., New York, NY, 10017. Send e-mail inquiries to email@example.com.