Vancouver independent theatre company Speakeasy Theatre undertook an experiment in pricing for its inaugural show last month. From all indications its “pay what you decide” model, where patrons paid what they thought was fair after seeing the show, was a success.
With audience members paying anything from zero to as much as $100 after seeing 3…2…1, Tarasiuk says it averaged out to be almost as much as the young company would have set ticket prices, had they not gone with this particular model.
“It was really interesting to see how the houses averaged out as the process went along,” says Tarasiuk. “Our Saturday matinee was only seventeen people, but that performance had the highest grossing ticket sales of the entire run.”
Helped no doubt by two audience members who gave $100 each at that particular performance, Tarasiuk says there also appeared to be a direct correlation between how well the show went, and the take at the box office.
“After that Saturday matinee Tom and I both thought it was the best show we had done, and that was rewarded with the larger box office,” he says.
Tarasiuk also saw peer pressure as a factor, with audience members influencing others on how much they paid.
“There was a definite ripple effect with people after the show,” he says. “If people saw the person in front of them give twenty dollars they were more inclined to give the same.”
Tarasiuk is also convinced that the model brought in people who might not necessarily have come in the first place, although ironically enough it also meant that some people who reserved a seat didn’t show up. “Whether that was because they were not financially tied to show or not is a little unclear, but likely,” he says.
As for using the pay-what-you-decide model again, Tarasiuk says it is something the fledgling company will continue with, at least in the short term, as they continue to build their audience.
“We will do it again in the future, at least a couple more times to have a full gauge as to whether it really is working or not,” he says. “It will be interesting to see what our ticket average will be with different types of shows.”
For more information on Speakeasy Theatre visit them online at http://www.speakeasytheatre.ca.