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Buskirk-Chumley Theater

50 show promoters change ticketing system, aim to increase attendance

POSTED AT 07:07 PM ON Jul. 4, 2012  (UPDATED AT 12:19 PM ON Jul. 7, 2012)

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The Buskirk-Chumley Theater Box Office changed the way patrons can purchase their tickets starting July 1. Fifty organizations that use the BCT Box Office to sell tickets will now allow patrons to make their purchases wherever, whenever and without a $2
convenience fee.

The new system, called OvationTix, will also give patrons the option to schedule reserved seating online and to redeem ticket subscriptions.

Before, the BCT Box Office used eFOLIO, an online ticketing system that incurred $2 convenience fees whenever patrons purchased tickets online or on the phone.

Promoters who use OvationTix will now have 24/7 access to sales information to tailor their marketing strategies to customers.

Although the new system will be more expensive to operate and promoters must pay a fee to set it up,, theater businesses also expect the convenience to lead to more ticket sales, offsetting the cost of the new system.

According to a BPP press release that explained these new adjustments — which for the BPP also include moving curtain times for the upcoming season from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. — the theater was the most well-attended during the 2011-2012 season in its 32-year history.

BPP Managing Director Gabe Gloden attributes last season’s success to cheap tickets for quality shows.

The theater, which Gloden said offers the cheapest rates in town, offers a pay-what-you-can preview the Thursday before the Friday performance of a new show.

“If you don’t have any money to spend on the show, but you still want to see the show, you can come to that performance for free, no questions asked,” he said. 

In addition, the theater offers their student-rush rate, meaning that if a student — from high school, community college or IU — arrives five minutes before a performance starts, they can purchase tickets for $5. Additionally, the theater ends its season in June and  only offers summer youth camps rather than shows during the summer.

Gloden said he’s not surprised by the theater’s success given the time and effort it takes to produce shows.

“All those things I think enhance the value of the final product of the show,” he said. “But at the same time trying to keep that ticket price down, we’re not alienating people. We really want people to come see a show.”

Purchasing tickets in advance created an inconvenience because of the $2 fee, Gloden said, even though tickets will now be a dollar more when bought through OvationTix.

“It’s just another step for us, I think, moving in the right direction, basically eliminating any barrier whatsoever a patron might have to buy a ticket in advance,” he said.

Maarten Bout, associate executive director for the BCT, said the BCT has earned more than $15,000 in revenue for upcoming shows since launching OvationTix, “which is pretty good for three days of being on sale.”

The BCT also now processes more than 11,000 transactions for 580 events annually, according to a press release announcing the ticket service changes. Many of the productions that the BCT hosts at its space in downtown Bloomington are from local theater businesses, such as Youth Theatre.

Bout said the appeal of the artist who is performing a show is important to the marketing process, and that presenters are conscientious of who lives in Bloomington at the time.

“Bloomington audiences are really clever. They are opinionated and they look for things to do,” said Bout. “We have a great audience that really knows what they want. So, you know, I think at the core, it comes down to making sure that people know that the show goes on, and then knowing that the singer presenting resonates with the audience.”

At the end of June, the IU Department of Theatre and Drama offered IU faculty, staff and students the opportunity to receive two free tickets for the Tuesday and Wednesday showing of “Damn Yankees,” which premiered for a special discount June 13. Tickets for IU Theatre shows are generally $25 for adults and $15 for students and those 18 and younger.

“‘Damn Yankees’ has been a tough sell this summer,” said Director of Audience Development John Kinzer in an email. “Mainly due to us getting a late start in the overall marketing plan, but I heard whispers that others are struggling. We are doing all sorts of ticket giveaways and discounts to generate audience.”

Kinzer also said the first children’s offering in decades — “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs,” which premiered June 23 ­­— is doing well. Currently, all upcoming shows of “3 Little Pigs”  are sold out.

Kinzer said summaries from last season showed a growth of more than 1,000 tickets compared to the year prior.

“Interestingly, we have set more modest goals for the coming season, but I am working on a plan to exceed these goals,” he said.

Kinzer did not point out what those plans would be.

Drew Bratton, arts administrator for IU Theatre and managing director for the 2012 Indiana Festival Theatre, which kicked off with “Damn Yankees,” said all tickets are bought through Ticketmaster. Patrons pay a convenience fee if tickets are either bought online or with season subscriptions but not when they are bought at the IU Auditorium Box Office.

In an email, Bratton said the big driver for a show is the show title’s familiarity.

Bout said the BCT has been able to work faster and more effectively since OvationTix was implemented. 

“I think for the larger community, the interest is much more in the additional functionality that the system offers,” he said. “Everybody: the presenters and promoters and the patrons.

 

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