Without sounding like a sooth saying pessimist, I think Australia as a whole is going to be really hit by the current economic downturn.
A quick look at the Oz dollar in the last week (1.10 a week ago, under a dollar just before close today) reflects the heinously unpredictable times we are facing and the financially instability that is coming out of America. Last time things went haywire, Australia was saved from much of it. It won’t happen again like that.I mention this, because in a recession the first thing that is affected is entertainment, and live theatre is the top of the list. My advice to actors at the moment is, if you are offered a job, even if its not the role you want, take it!!!
Things are going to get tough. The record industry is flailing, commercial television is dominated by ugly, repulsive and manipulative reality and games shows, there is a big cold world outside the front door.Already shows are suffering in Sydney and Melbourne, and the battle for the entertainment dollar is well and truly on.
So, one big positive suggestion in times like these, how about re-introducing halfix? The glorious idea that has works so well commercially for shows in NYC and London has never been properly introduced here. Mainly because commercial producers shied away from it, so halftix became a place to get slightly cheaper seats for small shows and independent theatre. I would love to see Australian theatre producers become economically wise about what a properly run and well constructed halftix booth could offer.
I have been researching some of the theatre booking plans on line in the last week or so and am amazed that weeks out from performances, there are shows where dress circle and third tier seats are not put on sale, as producers don’t expect them to sell. It makes no sense to me (and never did) why Australian producers think it’s better for their economy to have an empty seat, rather than one sold at half price. It works in London and New York (the NYC theatre economy is built on it in many ways) why are we afraid of it here?
Yet producers are afraid! Commercial managements were never properly behind the idea of halftix the first time round, and now theatre tickets are hideously expensive, especially for the average Joe. I grew up in a time when you could get last minute student rushes and half price tickets at Oz theatres in the back row for not much more than a movie ticket. It educates a whole new generation in the joys of theatre (just look at the young theatre-going audiences which grew out Wicked lottery – front row seats for thirty dollars).
Get with it, guys, sell those empty seats cheaply or one day you will look around and there will be no future theatre generation of audiences to call on. Big thinking and smart educated foresight into the future can be thin on the ground in this country and in these tough times, we are going to need producers to get with the programme before it’s too late. Photo: Photo by Qisur