On Monday (4th December) Newsnight had a report about the ROH one year on from its reopening. I didn't know it was going to be on and what follows is based on a few notes I rapidly took...
It seems that the ROH have been doing some audience research. Clearly it's useful to have some metrics of course, to operate the business best, but not least when the politicians come knocking on the door to remind you that better access was promised in return for more money! The Culture Committee are examining the ROH again and a report should emerge at some future time.
Here are some of the statistics quoted in the Newsnight report:
180,000 people, 40% of audience in a year, visited the main auditorium for the very first time. 60% of Linbury visitors were visiting the Opera House for the first time. Unfortunately no equivalent figures for the old house seem to be available but despite that the statistics would seem to indicate a house that is reaching out to new folks and in the Linbury case, a new and different audience.
Of the 30,000 first timers who attended Hamlyn week - the week that is exclusively for those who have never been to ROH before - 50% went on to book again. All great stuff it would seem in terms of bringing in new people and retaining them.
Less good are the demographics of the audience. They did not give a complete breakdown but here are the extremes..
19% of the audience are the chattering classes (or Guardian and Telegraph readers as they put it!)
10% of the audience are corporates
Blue collar works account for about 2.5% of the audience and inner-city council tower block residents (or some such moniker was used) less than 1%
Viewed in this light access is not achieving so much.
Raymond Gubbay was interviewed and there was the usual tirade about the arrogance of the place and that they continue to do things in the same old tired way. Its not ballet and opera for everybody is his message.
An 'ordinary punter' then had his say about why you can't get tickets because 80% (on popular nights) are snapped up by Friends.... it's all far too elitist etc.
Michael Kaiser, who actually leaves next week it seems, was interviewed and did a good job in explaining how he had to manage for all stakeholders and probably pleased none! He used the positive statistics well, while freely acknowledging that more had to be done on access.
The Newsnight report concluded that access had not worked out perhaps as well as hoped (I'll bet no metrics were agreed!), but anticipated that nobody would get too hot under the collar about it because there were few votes in it and worse, in a better run ROH, more money might be demanded to give even better access.
If anybody else saw the report I'd appreciate some other 'takes' on it. And if I have got anything horrendously wrong do say!!