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April 12, 2024

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SAYING IT: Is Supply and Demand Good for the Arts?

When shows like "Hamilton" jack up ticket prices way into the high hundreds, isn't that just counterintuitive to making the arts as accessible as possible?

It’s funny the amount of phone calls and e-mails I receive from friends asking me about everything happening at every venue in town. I’ve never received so many frantic inquiries, though, than in the past few weeks about all-things-Hamilton. “When are tickets going on sale?” “Will there be a presale?” “Will there be a lottery?” “OMG, they released more tickets, but they jacked up the prices. Is this show even worth it???”

I can’t yet attest to whether or not the ticket prices are worth it for Hamilton, because I haven’t seen the show yet (I’m going on New Years Day). In the realm of all the Hamilton conversations and the reality of what happened in TPAC’s box office between it’s initial public on-sale date and then the second round, I understand why people are nerve-wracked and upset.

The initial ticket price range for Hamilton tickets was $79 – $149. Then a couple days later, there were more tickets available on TPAC’s website, with the lowest price being $269. Now, whatever remaining seats there are (at least of this writing) will cost you $449 – $499. By the way, in all fairness, orchestra level seats for Hamilton in NYC are still fetching between $500 – $1,000! But that’s also New York. And even that’s still a pricing jab.

I understand the nature of supply and demand, but does it belong in the world of the arts to the point that it eliminates a lot of folks from being able to see shows? Even regional companies are known to publish on their websites that ticket prices are subject to increase based on demand. Locally, that messaging has even shown up on Nashville Ballet’s ticketing page.

Shouldn’t the initial ticket price range that’s originally published just stay intact versus hiking it up regardless? I think so. All the hype and buzz surrounding a show certainly presents a fun level of excitement (especially when you get your hands on the tickets). But I often wonder if it backfires somehow when a production takes advantage of that just to make more money. I believe the arts should be accessible to everyone, yet I also understand how they are traditionally underfunded.

It’s an interesting topic. And I get the arguments on both sides of the coin. It’s a good thing that many theater shows — both sitting productions in New York and national tours — offer affordable seats through ticket lotteries in contrast to expensive tickets.

HAMILTON TICKET LOTTERY

You might still be in luck if you didn’t manage to snag Hamilton tickets before now. For all performances of the show’s run at TPAC (Dec. 31 – Jan. 19), there will be 40 seats up for grabs for $10 a pop through a digital lottery on the Hamilton app. Be sure to download it to your device. The lottery details will be available closer to the show’s opening at TPAC.

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