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Local arts organizations help patrons see where their money goes

Ticket revenues only cover a portion of the total expense involved in presenting a concert, theatre production or ballet.
BY RICK ROGERS Published: March 10, 2013

Patrons who set aside some of their discretionary income to attend local performing arts events like to know where their money goes. Certainly, a significant portion helps pay for the talented artists who put on these productions.

And then there are attendant costs such as hall rental, sound and lighting equipment, licensing or royalty fees and miscellaneous production costs. When it comes to the fine arts, high-quality productions are expensive to mount.

If someone wanted to attend an Oklahoma City Philharmonic concert, a Lyric Theatre summer musical and an Oklahoma City Ballet performance, the combined cost for three of the best seats available (center orchestra) would set you back about $170.

With that in mind, I asked the Philharmonic, Lyric and the Ballet to provide a cost breakdown that helps explain just how much it costs for a nonprofit group to do business.

Each organization divided its budget into specific expense categories, from which I extracted percentages of the total budget.

I then applied those percentages to the cost of the organization's highest-priced ticket to show how much of a patron's ticket is spent on each category. And while those figures are often illuminating, it's surprising to learn that ticket costs only account for a fraction of the total expense required to present a concert, a musical or a ballet.

The remainder must be raised through contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations. If ticket prices covered the entire cost of production, patrons would have to pay $130 (versus $52) for a Philharmonic concert, $171 (versus $65) for a Lyric production and $102 (versus $55) for a ballet production.


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