New York’s TKTS booth, a discount theater ticket kiosk in Times Square, opened in 1973 with a revolutionary four-part formula: Take one cultural hub, add one funky booth, cut ticket prices in half and limit sales to day-of shows.
Since then, more than 50 million hinies have been introduced to the tony, velvet seats of Broadway’s most illustrious theaters, giving just as many people access to an art form they could not otherwise afford.
That model worked so well that other cities rushed to copy it: London, Boston and, in 1986, San Diego’s Arts Tix booth in Horton Plaza.
Why were the booth and its emulators so successful? Because theater tickets aren’t always cheap and theatergoers don’t always plan ahead. Cut prices and exploit people’s last-minute availability and find success.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been exploring the art and challenge of ticket pricing and discounting among San Diego arts institutions. Previously I wrote about how ticket revenues usually cover only a small part of operating budgets, and readers responded with their ideal price point. Today’s post explains the tenets of discounting tickets, a practice that’s been around since the olden days, though the internet has spread the phenomenon wider.
Filling up seats or galleries and fulfilling a philanthropic mission have been the two most common reasons for discounting or giving away tickets, arts groups said.