The Washington Post

Broadway audiences: Smart, white, rich, female, middle-aged

The latest Broadway League audience study is out, and in news that should surprise absolutely no one, most people who saw a Broadway show during the 2010-2011 season were white, affluent, well-educated, middle-aged and female. Last season’s audience was 65 percent female, 83 percent caucasian, 78 percent college-educated, with an average age of 44 and an average annual household income of $244,100.

"The Book of Mormon" at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York. (Joan Marcus/Associated Press)

Ken Davenport, a Broadway producer, posted the executive summary of the Broadway League’s findings on his blog, and the results demonstrate exactly why Hugh Jackman’s new show, “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway” is the perfect monster of Broadway success. Take a look at the autograph seekers in this New York Times photo. They seem to fit the description above precisely.

Some of the most interesting figures, as reported by Davenport:

• In the 2010-2011 season, approximately 62% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.

 • In the 2010-2011 season, approximately 62% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.

• Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatergoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw eight shows in the past year; the musical attendee, five.

• 74% of the Broadway audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts, freebies, add-ons) would encourage them to attend shows more often.

These lessons extend beyond Broadway, as theaters across the country are constantly looking for ways to bring in new audiences, diversify their current audiences, and attract young people. Based on these results, it seems as though cutting ticket prices or keeping them low ($150-$350 for a ticket to “Spider-Man,” really?) or running promotions on deal-of-the-day sites like Groupon and LivingSocial would go a long way in achieving those goals.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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