Why live art is suffering

April 12, 2023


Sarabeth Wester

Homebodyness has plagued American minds and as a result, theater attendance has lowered.

The year is 2019. It’s a Friday night in NYC, and you’re walking along Broadway going to the TKTS Times Square ticket booth. You jump in the two hour queue hoping to secure same day tickets, but by the time you make it to the front, the big red letters dance across the screen, sold out!

Only four years ago, theaters were selling out and attendance was at a high. Now, Broadway theaters struggle to reach 80% attendance.

What changed?

Ever since the beginning of 2020, Americans have become stuck in one place: home. At home, entertainment platforms like Netflix have made movie theaters redundant, Facetime acts as a substitute for in person communication, and Youtube bootlegs have rendered live theater useless. These platforms that are becoming ingrained in our daily life promote homebodyness and further the death of live art.

This recent trend is known as the “Homebody” trend, and it has been one major cause for the low ticket sales nationwide. The American public have started to become reclusive; they attempt not to venture out into the public unless it is necessary. Grocery shopping has become grocery delivery, eating out has become doordashing and watching movies have become Netflix. American society has created modes that further implement homebodyness into American society.The stark drop in ticket sales is predominantly due to the American trend of “homebodyness.”

I mean, why go to the movie theater or play and spend $50 when you can stream the same production on Amazon Prime for $6.99. Because Americans have immense access to highly engaging home services, why would they go out?

This homebodyness harms the theater community because it dissuades the public from attending shows.

Not to state the obvious, but theater in its most vivid form is live. When the audience sees a production in a pre-recorded showing, it misconstrues the experience and the true gift that is theater.

The sad fact is: no one cares.

In recent times, theater has gained the unwarranted stigma that it’s “lame,” which deters younger generations from seeing shows. They think musical theater is “cringy,” and this conception is killing the art form.

Another major reason theater is diminishing in popularity is the root of many other issues in America: inflation. Ticket prices are at an all time high, making theater inaccessible to the majority of Americans. Broadway theaters charge anywhere from 150 to 400 dollars per ticket. This makes lower income families unable to afford a trip to the theater. Even local theaters are charging around 40 dollars per ticket, which for families living with lower incomes could equate to three pasta dinners at Carrabba’s.

Inflation and homebodyness work hand-in-hand. Theater attendance is at a low because ticket prices are up and homebodyness is up; homebodyness is up because it is cheaper to stay in than blow your money at the theater. And unemployment is up and inflation is making prices soar, so really the theater community is at the mercy of economics.

Until the economy can stabilize, theater trends and attendance will remain an issue.

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