SMU DataArts - Cultural Data Profile


Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL. Photo by James Steinkamp. Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL. Photo by James Steinkamp.

Theatre Ticket Revenue Continues to Slide in the U.S.

The following is an excerpt from an insight report published on December 10, 2020, "Ticket Sales and Philanthropy" that is part of a larger project, the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard conducted by TRG Arts, which is helping arts organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. understand how the COVID-19 virus has affected their operations.

Key Findings

In November 2020 performing arts organizations in the United States witnessed their worst month yet for ticket sales since the outbreak of COVID-19. Compared to November 2019, ticket revenues fell 96.3%. In the United Kingdom, comparative sales were down 84.6%. This was a marked improvement over October 2020 (down 90.1%) and the best performance for comparative sales since March 2020.


Read the Full Report


The COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard, developed by TRG Arts in collaboration with U.K.-based audience analytics company Purple Seven, launched in early April 2020. The dashboard, which is free, provides near real-time intelligence and advice to help arts leaders see results as they respond to the pandemic. The project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to SMU DataArts, TRG Arts' longtime partner in advancing the arts and cultural sector. 

When an organization signs up for the dashboard, an automated data feed is set up between the organization’s box office and the dashboard’s secure server. The automated feed provides a daily update on ticket sales, refunds, and donations for the organization. In addition, data from all other organizations participating in the dashboard is aggregated in an anonymous format to create a national benchmark, which shows up on the dashboard and allows an organization to see how it compares with a large group of its peers. The dashboard is entirely anonymous, so no one else’s sales figures or customer data are identifiable to an organization. The dashboard provides daily insights for individual organizations that they can share with constituents and stakeholders; reveals sector trends in almost real-time, which can assist in short- and long-term planning; allows arts leaders and policymakers to track daily sales data across entire sectors; and by data gathering and benchmarking across the U.K., Canada, and the U.S., gives a clearer picture of the effects of the virus on the arts sector and the recovery in each country. Monthly Insight Reports will be posted on the SMU DataArts and TRG Arts websites. Read more in the press release.

COVID-19 and Philanthropy – Giving in 2020

Insight Report VII