16 January 2009

Recession reaches operatic proportions

(The Met's) once-mighty endowment of more than $300 million has dropped by a third, to a point where it cannot be drawn from; donations are down by $10 million this season; and ticket sales are expected to be off by several million dollars from what was expected, Mr. Gelb said in an interview.

Mr. Gelb said that he and senior staff members have taken a 10 percent pay cut and that the rest of the staff would do so at the end of the fiscal year, which concludes after the season. He said at least four expensive productions have been canceled or replaced next season as well.

The good news? The Met has scrapped plans for a cumulative 8 percent increase in ticket prices. “We think people can’t afford them,” Mr. Gelb said. Ticket prices now range from $15 to $375. But the decision also means less revenue.
Another potential good news: the recession may also force the Met to reinstate some subscriber perks lost this season, including free and instant ticket exchanges upon signing up for full subscriptions. And perhaps another: we may not see a line this crazy for a number of years. (I was there.)