Topic 4 Price

Pricing the cultural product is a difficult challenge, particularly for non-profit organisations, as they cannot match the cost of the cultural product to its selling price. Non-profits must lower prices, living up to their social mission, namely making culture accessible to everyone regardless of economic standing.

Non-profit cultural organisations usually offer relatively low-priced tickets or a wide range of prices, to accommodate different audience segments and still support the organisation’s income from entrance tickets. A characteristic example is the prominent Vienna State Opera, with ticket prices ranging from €18 to €287 for opening nights. Last-minute standing tickets can be also purchased at €3, technically excluding no-one on financial grounds.

Other theatres offer last-minute low-priced tickets for unsold seats, despite the questionable benefits of this pricing strategy: it may help perform at fuller houses, but it motivates audiences not to pre-book their tickets. Thus, the organisation gets little input on expected audiences and cannot plan on secure ticket income.

The Price of the cultural product is defined by taking into account a number of factors:

  • The cultural organisation’s mission, strategy, and objectives.
  • The cost of the cultural product (although in non-profits ticket income can very seldom match up to the product’s actual cost, due to the limitations dictated by the social mission and the high production costs of cultural products).
  • The product’s exclusivity: opening nights, special holiday performances, star-casting, and premium seats are usually priced higher, as they are linked with special occasions or specific visitor needs.
  • The pricing strategies of competitors and the price of alternative similar products.
  • The Demand and Supply rule, which is linked to the value the customer assigns to the cultural product.
  • The general state of the market and of people’s finances.