Programmatic choices and the demand for theatre: the case of Flemish theatres
Theatre experts generally agree that the Flemish theatre has flourished artistically over the period 1980–2000. Attendance, on the other hand, has declined significantly. Following Lancaster’s characteristics approach, we identify several output characteristics of individual theatre productions. Using a panel of 59 Flemish theatres, we examine the impact on demand of both these output characteristics and of traditional determinants such as own price, income and the price of substitutes. Differences in the relevant geographical market for touring and non-touring theatres are considered. We find that the nature of the artistic output affects demand. Theatregoers prefer large productions (in terms of cast size), plays by Dutch-speaking playwrights and revivals of old productions. Own price and consumer income have the expected negative and positive effects on attendance. Observed trends toward a decreasing proportion of new plays, an increasing presence of plays by Dutch-speaking playwrights, and increasing consumer income had a stimulating effect on attendance. These trends have been offset, however, by trends toward smaller cast sizes and higher ticket prices as well as by unobserved factors captured by time dummies. The net result has been a considerable drop in attendance. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007
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