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Report: £5 is ‘optimum’ price point for virtual shows

A ticket that costs £5 (€5.55) for individual adults, or £10 (€11.10) for families with children, is the optimum average price point for virtual events, new analysis reveals.

For Vivid Interface’s Meeting the Online Opportunity, the UK market research firm asked 1,019 people who had visited at least two visitor attractions in the 18 months prior to lockdown in March 2020 how much they would pay to “watch a [virtual] play, opera, ballet performance or live band gig, or do a class, and so on”.

For “independent adults”, the price point where both revenue and viewership are at their highest is, on average, £5, according to the report. For families with children under 16, revenue is highest at £10, while the biggest viewership is achieved at £5.

The survey also reveals differences in willingness to spend based on age group – for 18–25s and 36–54s the optimum price point is £10, while for 26–35s and over-55s it’s £5 – and gender, with men prepared to pay more for their online experiences than women.

“The right online offer can provide a rapid revenue recovery”

Vivid Interface’s MD, Geoff Dixon, comments: “Nothing beats the live events arena. It’s where we work – and my social life – but organisers have to at least explore the possibility of online augmentation of their offer in pandemic times.

“I believe that the right online offer can provide a rapid revenue recovery without harming the long-term viability of ‘live’. In fact, an online presence can reach new geographies and bring new customers to a brand, attracting people who may in time walk through a physical door rather than a paywall.”

According to Vivid’s research, the Royal Opera House, by charging £4.99 for its first post-lockdown virtual shows, “may not be optimising revenue”; however, Laura Marling’s groundbreaking Union Chapel concert, which attracted an online audience of 6,500 with a ticket price of £12.50 (€13.90), “may be optimising revenue at this price point”.

“Research will help to set out a plan and an understanding of the price-to-demand relationships that are key to successful brand building,” adds Dixon.

 


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UK venues announce redundancies

Some of the UK’s most iconic venues have recently announced wide-reaching staff redundancies as the financial pressures of the Covid-19 shutdown continue to bite.

The news of sweeping staff layoffs in venues including the Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House, come just as venues in England are finally given the go-ahead to reopen, albeit under restricted circumstances.

The announcements also come in the wake of the losses of well loved Manchester venues Gorilla and Deaf Institute last week, as well as VMS Live’s Hull venues the Welly and the Polar Bear.

London’s Southbank Centre, a multi-venue arts and culture complex including the 2,700-capacity Royal Festival Hall, is to make up to two thirds of its staff redundant, equating to around 400 roles.

The centre, which has previously warned it may be forced to close until at least April 2021 without the correct support, has already furloughed the majority of its 600 employees and pecits a deficit of £5.1m for the current financial year.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy,” says a spokesperson for the venue.

The spokesperson says the cuts form part of a management plan designed “to stem the financial losses being incurred as a result of Covid-19, and to help safeguard the future of the UK’s largest arts centre.”

The news comes as the Royal Opera House (ROH) announces it is laying off its entire team of casual workers.

“It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy”

It is unclear how many jobs are affected, but the organisation has confirmed that all casual contracts have been terminated and a process of voluntary redundancies among other staff is already underway.

“It is with huge sadness that we have begun a restructure process,” reads a post on the ROH Twitter page. “The scale of financial pressure on ROH alongside continued restrictions on our ability to perform to live audiences, has resulted in this very difficult decision.”

The post adds that ROH’s director of music, Antonio Pappano, has forgone his salary since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, with the venue’s chief executive, Alex Beard, also taking a “significant reduction” in pay.

The National Theatre in London has also signalled its intention to proceed with around 400 redundancies among its casual staff base, including 250 front-of-house workers.

The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), is another organisation to announce it is planning redundancies across its UK workforce.

ATG, which operates close to 50 venues worldwide including theatres Bristol Hippodrome, London’s Lyceum Theatre, Sunderland Empire, Manchester’s Palace Theatre and the Alexandra in Birmingham, as well as live venues Swansea Arena and the Stockton Globe, says layoffs may affect around 5% of its staff, predominantly those working in its head offices in London and Woking.

The operator has also said that while it zero-hours staff will continue to be supported by the government’s furlough scheme, arrangements beyond that have not been confirmed.

The wave of redundancies come despite the UK government’s recently announced £1.57 billion rescue package for arts and culture and a reduction in the value-added tax (VAT) levied on concert and event tickets, from 20% to 5%.

It remains unclear how the funds will be distributed across the sector.

Photo: Saval/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Landmark legal win for musician with acoustic shock

A classical musician who suffered permanent hearing damage as a result of being exposed to noise levels of more than 130bB has won a legal victory over the Royal Opera House (ROH), in a judgment that could have wide-ranging implications for the British music industry.

Chris Goldscheider, a ROH viola player, suffered ‘acoustic shock’ – a condition with symptoms including pain, tinnitus and nausea, caused by hearing an unexpected loud sound – during a rehearsal for a performance of Wagner’s The Valkyrie in September 2012. Goldscheider was seated in the opera house’s orchestra pit (pictured), where peak noise levels reached 130.8dB – louder than a modern jet engine – according to the High Court judgment.

Goldscheider’s claim centred on the orchestra’s alleged violation of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, which compel employers to reduce the risk to employees’ health by controlling the noise they are exposed to while at work.

Finding in Goldscheider’s favour, judge Nicole Davies said there is a “clear factual and causal link between identified breaches of the regulations and the high level of noise which ensued at the rehearsal. It commenced with an inadequate risk assessment, [and] continued with a failure to undertake any monitoring of noise levels in the cramped orchestra pit with a new orchestral configuration which had been chosen for artistic reasons.”

While the musician wore earplugs during “those parts of the rehearsal when he felt he needed them”, according to court documents, the noise from the brass section behind him was still “overwhelming”.

“Sound is not a byproduct of an industrial process but is an essential part of the product itself”

Goldscheider “now lives a relatively quiet life”, and “has learnt to avoid the noises which trigger the symptoms – for example, the vibrations from a large supermarket fridge or the noise in a restaurant”. His injuries, he says, have “decimated his professional life and made his partner’s professional life very difficult, as she is a member of the ROH orchestra”.

In a statement to the BBC, the ROH says it had received medical advice that long-term hearing damage could not be caused by an isolated incident of exposure to live music. “We have been at the forefront of industry wide attempts to protect musicians from the dangers of exposure to significant levels of performance sound, in collaboration with our staff, the Musicians’ Union, acoustic engineers and the Health and Safety Executive,” says a spokesperson.

“Although this judgment is restricted to our obligations as an employer under the Noise Regulations, it has potentially far-reaching implications for the Royal Opera House and the wider music industry.

“We do not believe that the Noise Regulations can be applied in an artistic institution in the same manner as in a factory – not least because in the case of the Royal Opera House, sound is not a byproduct of an industrial process but is an essential part of the product itself.”

“This has been a complex case and we will consider carefully whether to appeal the judgment,” the venue concludes.

Damages payable to Goldscheider will be assessed at a later date.

 


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