Whether it is the Bloomberg Financial Report or the Economist, Fortune, National News, or even your local news, the message is clear: 2023 will be a challenging year fiscally. The global economy is suffering, and the “slowcession” is already rearing its ugly head. While some say this will help us avoid an economic crash, one in the arts has to sit back and contemplate the future of performing arts once again. If the Covid-19 pandemic wasn’t enough of a blow to the performing arts, or the many scandals that unfolded, we are now facing the fact that inflation is ruining the world of performing arts. Seeing dance studios across the United States raise their prices, inflating the costs of costumes and private training creates a dangerous threat: you will outprice your clientele. Dance is a luxury hobby. Dance at the competitive level is even more of a luxury, and ballet, in essence, is the most luxurious genre of them all. As expenses surrounding ballet never end. While small schools and studios face this problem, the bigger issue is how will professional ballet companies survive. It isn’t a secret that ballet companies survive on three main revenue streams: Ticket Sales (mostly Nutcracker), their affiliated ballet school, and development (donations and grants). If we are gearing up for a recession or an economic downturn, luxury events like attending the ballet are going to slow down. The number of kids attending classes will also decrease as families will make budget cuts.
This challenge we are facing brings me back to my soap box, which I have been standing on for years. The older generation criticized me when I said social media would be the future of ballet, and here we are ten years later, depending on it to sell tickets. A particular generation criticized my endorsement of ballet competitions, and here we are now, depending on it to recruit recognizable talent into companies. Now, I am saying it is time to make dance even more accessible and more affordable. We shall see who listens.
If the economy faces a challenging time, daycare will become expensive; kids won’t have the funds to populate their social media with family trips, shopping sprees, and fancy dinners. We have already seen a decrease in attending movies. While after the pandemic, there was a resurgence of live performances and travel, this economic downturn is a sign to start planning. Start making dance more affordable, a cleaner and more positive environment, and create a more streamlined pipeline of success.
Yes, it is all scary, and the future is scary, but you can do many things to plan and guarantee the success of your business and ballet as a whole industry.