Survey reveals live music and theatre have suffered a huge hit at the Australian box office

Live Performance Australia has released its annual ticket attendance and revenue survey for 2015, revealing a decline in ticket sales across the sector after two years of growth.

Just over 18 million tickets were issued to live performance events in 2015, generating total ticket sales revenue of $1.4 billion. When compared to 2014, revenue is down 6.7% and attendance down 1%. Subsequently, ticket prices across the board dropped by nearly 5%.

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Contemporary music and festivals both suffered significant declines in 2015, due in large part to the cancellation of the Big Day Out.

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Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson says it’s difficult to predict exactly what might happen into the future, but suspects those figures will have turned have around in 2016 (to be released this time next year).

But recently announced changes to visa regulations for visiting artists are set to hit some promoters hard in coming years. Previously, a promoter could pay a bulk $7200 processing fee if they were bringing in a large group of artists, but soon they’ll have to pay $275 per person.

The situation was similarly poor for theatre (the category excludes musicals) in 2015 which reached its lowest attendance and revenue in over a decade.

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The report says that the significant drop is due to the fact that there was no major commercial theatre production touring in 2015, like the live version of British TV show Mrs Brown’s Boys, which toured in 2014 to great success. And despite the downward trend in commercial theatre, theatre companies from the subsidised sector and major performing arts groups experienced growth in 2015.

Another category very sensitive to those sorts of movements is circus and physical theatre, which had a 116% boost due to a very popular tour from Cirque du Soleil.

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Richardson says that while she’s optimistic about the health of the sector, there are certainly challenges ahead given a number of recent policy changes.

“When you talk about innovation and creativity and the new modern economy, and all those kinds of phrases, the creative sector is a very important part of that moving forward, and I don’t think that’s currently reflected in the national conversation at all. It’s something we’re focused on, to be able to say that this industry is worth, conservatively, $1.4 billion and contributes economy, socially and culturally, and has an important role to play moving forward.”

She says that the survey represents a very conservative estimate as to the amount of activity in the live performance sector and doesn’t take into account certain activity. She’s hoping the data set will expand in coming years.

“We want to understand what’s happening in pubs and clubs and smaller venues that aren’t necessarily be ticketed through the major ticketing organisations or may not be LPA members either,” she says.

“It’s a snapshot of a particular point in time, but certainly we know that our government stakeholders look at it very closely, not just in terms of understanding state and federal activity, but also across the genres. It’s important to have that picture.”

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All tables and graphs: Live Performance Australia’s 2015 ticket attendance and revenue survey

Featured image: Cirque du Soleil’s Totem

 

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