Opera Holland Park, in London’s richest borough of Kensington and Chelsea, has announced it its cutting seat prices next summer by between 3.5% and 28%. The new policy is called ‘dynamic pricing’ and it’s designed to keep the festival full and reduce social resentment.
Michael Volpe, OHP’s manager, writes:
In trying to subsidise much cheaper seats at one end, rather than making the wealthy pay much more (and the dynamic in a venue’s audience that creates) it might be better if more pay evenly and reasonably in the middle. If we ask the wealthy to pay £120 for a seat so others can pay £20, that is superficially a good thing I suppose, but it also means the qualitative and environmental demands of the higher fee payer increase accordingly, production and facility costs will rise, those audience members who balk at “luxurious” atmospheres will resist and thus the cycle continues and is unsustainable as far as the wider opera loving audience is concerned. Sponsors and donors contribute to ticket subsidy but there is a limit to that, even though we would all love somebody to dump a million into the pot to ensure prices are cheaper. Yet we would again have to confront the expectation this would form and the likelihood of finding regular gifts like that.
I can hear people saying that perhaps the cost of producing opera, expensive at the best of times, needs to find a new balance too. I would agree with that view to some degree; but can we expect singers and orchestras to start dropping their fees? Maybe, maybe not. In most of the opera world, singers don’t get hugely well paid for what is, after all, a high degree of skill and artistry.
Full post here.