The climbing cost of culture
Same thing at other prestige NYC venues. There are discount ticket booths and rush tickets, but, if wanting guaranteed seats to a performance we want to see, we are stuck in premium-price stratosphere.
In the last decade, Broadway prices have vaulted beyond inflation; the reason is discussed in an Atlantic article by Derek Thompson, here.
"Ils sont partis où, les bourgeois? Nulle part. Ils se sont branchés sur internet et du coup, ils sont devenus un peu cons. Ils n'apprécient plus les tableaux des grands maîtres, n'écoutent plus de musique savante, ne lisent plus la grande littérature.
Les bourgeois avaient de la culture, les abrutis de consommation qu'ils sont devenus n'ont plus que des opinions, comme s'ils étaient tous devenus chroniqueurs."
Translation: "Where did the bourgeois go? Nowhere. They plugged themselves into the internet, and suddenly, they became rather thick. They no longer appreciate paintings by great masters, no longer listen to classical music, no longer read great literature.
The bourgeois had culture. The consuming morons that they have become have nothing but opinions, as if they had all become columnists."
Though stratospheric ticket prices deter all classes but the wealthy, Foglia takes aim at the relatively prosperous people who used to support the arts: they have instead become what he calls "turbo-consumers", spending their discretionary income on stuff, not performances.
And so proceeds the dumbing-down of my cultural life, at least on the most prestigious stages of NYC.
There are options: student recitals, off-off-Broadway shows and local musicians invite surprise and serendipity. I do not care if it's Alec Baldwin or Joe Blow on stage, as long as the performance enthralls. (In fact if it is Baldwin, it's a $150 per person surcharge.)
I am ever more grateful for our local theatre scene. Natty and I especially like Infinitheatre, where the audience sits in a former city bath (the seats are in the tiled pool) to watch bold productions like the stunning Japanese musical "Hanafuda Denki".
This show earned five stars at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; we saw it for less than $15 each, thanks to their $75 6-pack ticket deal.
I'm not worried about the Met, which had a very profitable 2013. But in Montréal, local dance companies, small theatres and music festivals are feeling the pinch, as people weigh the cost.
Companies who want to keep their older, loyal audience could offer friendlier pricing options. It's difficult for many seniors to make two trips on the day of a performance to secure rush tickets. A seniors' season subscription would sell more guaranteed seats and is much easier on elders. Hear that, National Ballet?