How much? – The dichotomy of the UK Events Industry

The events industry has altered significantly in the last few years, shows that were an easy sell a few years ago are now increasingly difficult to sell. Artists who had moved onto arena tours are now struggling to sell out theatre venues and ticket prices are often cited as the reason for poor sales.

The market is complex and I’ve noticed a local shift which I feel is definitely contributing to the current climate.

Wakefield, like many other towns and cities across the UK opted to close its Tourist Information Centre in the face of government budget cuts. Where is the sense in maintaining a high street presence in a rented unit when the logic is that people shop online when it comes to events?

A quick glance at our figures for previous concerts show that around 10% of tickets were sold through the Tourist Information Centre, customers preferred the interaction with a well-informed member of staff who could answer queries about the event. Also missing is the advantage of a well-positioned poster in a prominent area.

In Wakefield the Tourist Information Centre is now located in the Cathedral Shop but this is relatively difficult to find and a specific journey is required as opposed to dropping in through an inviting electronic sliding door.

Whilst support for smaller venues has definitely diminished in recent years, arenas are on of the few success stories in today’s events market. Prices of arena tickets are showing no stagnation and they are coupled with exorbitant fees for booking event tickets. A recently opened arena in the North is quoting in excess of £34 to see an aged popular film with a live orchestra and ticket fees are £1.50 for the privilege of printing at home!

Arenas have created a perception that they have the best artists and events so are worth paying for. In the meantime other events may struggle to sell for anything above £10 even though they offer a more intimate performance with often excellent quality. A huge marketing budget and brand definitely helps.

Events can be a way of galvanising a community but huge ticket prices can alienate locals. One of the most exciting projects in the North is taking place shortly in York, a replica Globe theatre is being constructed close to Clifford’s Tower and a series of Shakespearean classics are being performed.
It has been launched to great fanfare with commercial adverts running on Classic FM. Whilst this all sounds great the ticket prices are not, they are beyond the means of many local people unless they opt for the on the day standing tickets.

Perhaps this is how it worked in Shakespeare’s day but this will do less for the community than is imagined.  By contrast the York Mystery Plays are community driven with many being acted out by local groups. A series of plays performed in public places telling biblical stories, many with a contemporary interpretation , they are highly accessible and a rich source of drama.

Despite the current dichotomy between the funded and non funded, haves and have nots, many people will plough on trying to produce and sell great productions. Not for the love of money but for the love of art and the passion they have for getting audiences to see their work. Our own show “HAPPY” headlined by Faryl Smith takes place on Saturday May 5th.  We hope as many people come along and see this excellent production as possible.

Our prices are low so that the event is affordable for people and their families but we don’t have the huge budget to tell everyone about it!


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