For What it’s Worth

What’s the price? Everything has one; admission, subscriptions, memberships, special exhibitions, box seats, refreshments, souvenirs, and on and on – a full menu. What the price is matters. Generally, nonprofit arts organizations in the US receive about half of their revenue as “earned income,” and determining how to set prices is an increasingly more sophisticated art. While one might complain about cynics who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, the fact is that better pricing gives arts organizations more freedom to accomplish good,
valuable things.

Unfortunately, pricing is not studied in nearly as much depth as, say, fund raising, in most arts management programs. Textbooks give only a few pages, if any at all, to the subject. So in this blog we will try to fill the gap.

Here we will think carefully and strategically about setting prices. Even “free” ought to be the result of consideration, and recognition of the trade-offs. We will look at innovative pricing models around the world, both inside and outside the arts, debates on pricing practices, and current research, and take up suggestions, questions and puzzles from our readers.

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