2021-22 Theatre Philadelphia Organization Survey | Theatre Philadelphia
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2021-22 Theatre Philadelphia Organization Survey

Jul 22, 2021

This month, Theatre Philadelphia distributed a 2021-2022 season survey as we take steps to gather information on theatre organizations' upcoming plans. 

The purpose of this survey is to gather information on theatre organizations' initiatives between July 2021-June 2022, and to communicate the planning process of theatres through sharing aggregate / anonymous results and responses. These responses may serve as a resource for artists and organizations alike, and may help shape Theatre Philadelphia's upcoming programming initiatives.

Organizations who responded are located within a 35-mile radius of Philadelphia's City Hall.


2021-22 Theatre Philadelphia Organization Survey
40 responses updated 7/22

Please describe your 2021-2022 annual operating budget compared to your Pre-COVID budget. 

Decreased - 52.5%
Staying the Same - 20%
Increased - 27.5%

Will you continue to offer virtual or alternative programming during the 2021-2022 season? 

Yes - 50%
I’m Not Sure - 35%
No - 15%

Please describe any notable audience behaviors in relation to your virtual ticketing options. 

Ticket prices - responses:

  • PWYC pricing is more successful for in-person events than virtual events
  • Audience grateful for virtual options and PWYC pricing
  • Audiences were willing to pay for more expensive ticket prices during the pandemic.
  • Audiences were generally less interested in paying for virtual work. 

Audiences and attendance - responses:

  • Summer and fall 2020 programs more successful than spring programs - could be attributed to zoom fatigue, weather, vaccine availability, or all of the above.
  • Drop in ticket sales once vaccines were available
  • Virtual programming created pathways to engage new communities.
  • Much larger audience outside of Philly and around the world for virtual programming. 
  • Success with interactive ticket options combined with asynchronous viewing options
  • Some international viewers, but small percentage
  • Looking forward to being back to live, on stage, and in-person!
  • Group sales of virtual programming to universities
  • One third of our audiences were new, but our overall attendance numbers dropped.
  • More people purchased tickets than watched content
  • We factored in 2 people watching per every ticket sold. Our attendance dropped as the pandemic dragged along. 80-90% of our audiences bought their tickets within 24-36 hours of the event.
  • We have been able to reach new audiences who could not physically attend in-person events

Will you offer live indoor or live outdoor theatre as part of your 2021-2022 plans?

Yes - 87.5%
I’m Not Sure - 12.5%

If applicable, please describe when you will return to your space or venue.

Answers varied between returning to office and stage, and some depended on venue availability. The majority of responses said returning Fall 2021 (September - November) was likely, and additional responses said early 2022 (Winter-Spring).

67.5% - Fall
17.5% - Winter/Spring
15% - not sure

If applicable, at what capacity will you re-open your space or venue? 

12.5% said re-open at 50% capacity
30% said wish to return at full capacity when able
57.5% - not sure, no response, or other

How many productions have you planned for your 2021-2022 season? Please note # of virtual and # of live. 

No trends, varies by company and company structure. As mentioned before, many companies plan to be hybrid, and others will resume in-person only when possible. 

Please provide any details about your re-opening efforts, or a link to your re-opening statement. 

A range of answers that vary by company. Responses include: 

  • Planning based on current public health protocols and guidelines
  • Following the lead of larger companies
  • Working on it / in progress / programs subject to change
  • Speaking with venues, hosts, and stakeholders. 
  • Announced protocol for smaller in-person sessions and updates to training, with public statements on website to be updated as possible. 
  • Working on EDI. 
  • Want to sponsor work of other artists until able to present own live work
  • Statement is on the company website or will be announced soon

Do you utilize a union agreement (AEA, SAG-AFTRA, etc.) while presenting your programming?

No - 60%
Yes - 40%

Please provide any details about your union agreements.

If Yes, responses have included:

  • Waiting on guidelines.
  • We have been operating on Special Appearance contract. We do not know if those will continue to be available post-pandemic. It was not available mid-pandemic.
  • Previously operated under an AEA stage reading contract, virtual programming was offered through Theatre Authority agreement, unsure what the future will hold regarding staged readings guidlines.
  • In process of working on our AEA contract for this season
  • We just got the updated guidelines from Equity and are still working on it.
  • LORT special agreements with vaccinated cast

Do you have an interest in a tech solution to verify test results and vaccines for audiences and employees?

Not Sure - 60%
No - 25%
Yes - 15%

Do you have an interest in HR or mediation services?

No - 42.1%
Yes - 36.8%
Not Sure - 21.1%

*This question was added as an update to the survey.

Which 3 resources have you found most useful to help you prepare for your upcoming season?

Answers vary:

  • Audience Surveys
  • City of Philadelphia website, guidelines, and social media
  • Consultants
  • LORT
  • TCG
  • Production Manager’s Forum
  • CDC Guidelines
  • GPCA
  • Industry Conversations and Meetings, Following other companies
  • Following Union and Broadway League theatres
  • Local News
  • Fractured Atlas
  • Wolf Brown Survey
  • Online streaming ticketing services
  • Relief funding
  • Partner organizations / Other companies
  • Production teams
  • Constituents
  • Grants
  • Supporters and Friends
  • Looking outside of the theatre community
  • Verifying test results for artists
  • Insurance and arts service orgs
  • Communication with audience members
  • OACCE and Parks

Which 3 resources are still needed to support and optimize your upcoming season? 

Answers vary:

  • Funding - consultants
  • Funding - staff to monitor audience and theatre artist needs + safety protocol
  • Funding - more funding and support than what the city and state are promising
  • Fundraising for artist groups and collectives 
  • Ongoing discussions and workshops regarding theatre protocols and resources
  • Updates from unions - more information, and accessible information
  • Community updates
  • Understanding of audience needs
  • Real data vs. anecdotal data on audience be behavior
  • Advocacy and media coverage
  • Marketing strategies or support
  • Freelance producing guidelines
  • Navigating vaccine responses for audience, cast, and crew
  • Networking for theatre companies to navigate the unknown
  • Venue and rehearsal space, funding for space rental
  • Help engaging supporters: donors, subscribers, volunteers
  • Relationships with Philadelphia Parks and Rec
  • Support staff
  • Understanding what other Philly theatres are planning
  • Audience surveys
  • Help with hiring
  • Info on vaccine success
  • Consumer confidence
  • DEI guidance
  • Clear re-opening strategies
  • A coordinated effort in Philadelphia to talk about the benefits of live performance and why people should return.

What information would you like audiences to know as you launch your upcoming programs? 

Answers vary: 

  • We care about safety and comfort and take safety seriously
  • We need your support
  • We’re ready to see you again!
  • Your attendance is important to the future of the arts here.
  • Health and safety is a top priority. Resuming “normal” may take longer because of this.
  • Open to feedback, desiring conversation, want theatre work to serve community and provide an opportunity for artists here.
  • Live-streaming available for audiences who are uncomfortable being back.
  • Attending theatre is a shared experience that cannot be duplicated.
  • We will be communicating with audiences about our timeline for re-opening, our new hires, and our changes to the way we operate to create a most equitable and inclusive space.
  • We're creating new systems and ask for understanding. The rules of the theater have changed a bit.  
  • Reiterating the mission of our organization.

How can Theatre Philadelphia help you?

Answers vary:

  • Advertising support
  • Marketing
  • Bring community together
  • Space for theatres to share updates
  • Venue connections and spaces
  • Opportunities for standardized practices
  • Connecting venues/small organizations/artists
  • Collect and provide info re: covid, health, support, communities
  • Audience surveys to gauge Philadelphia audiences
  • Support with planning
  • Consistent language and resources among theatres
  • Facilitate individual conversations for EDI, safety, and other focuses
  • Seminars or online discussions
  • Keep the information flowing

Find the 2021-22 season survey here