Magazine article American Theatre

No Rush for Cheap Seats

Magazine article American Theatre

No Rush for Cheap Seats

Article excerpt

NEW YORK CITY: Attention young scholars: Getting inexpensive tickets for an Off-Broadway show just got easier. All you have to do is register with an e-mail address for a discount code, look online to see what shows are on offer (most in previews), purchase the tickets for a mere $15 each, then show up at the box office and flash your student ID.

The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Signature Theatre Company and City Center are getting all the New York Times ink for offering inexpensive seats or implementing new student-rush policies. But a larger challenge faces companies that don't have private donors and huge corporations like Time Warner and Altria Group to financially underwrite their audience-development efforts.

Existing student rush programs are often inconvenient or unadvertised. "They never work," says Susan Jonas, an arts analyst at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), "because students can't and won't stand in line for hours without being assured they will secure a ticket. And if the show is a success, usually they have little hope of getting a seat, which is counterintuitive if you want to cultivate the audience of tomorrow."

So Jonas--along with Wren Longuo, marketing director of the New Group, a fast-rising Off-Broadway company, and Geoff Rich, its executive director--devised the Student No-Rush Program (SNR) this past October, a centralized way for theatres to offer preview tickets through the nonprofit ticketing agency Ticket Central (it's an arm of Playwrights Horizons). …

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