In a preemptive strike to keep audiences from trading an evening of theater for TV and a frozen pizza during troubled economic times, Center Theatre Group is announcing a new “Entertainment Stimulus Package” that will make available 100,000 tickets at $20, available for all performances at all three of its theaters –the Ahmanson, Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas — for the entire 2008-09 season.


I much prefer this to comps. Free tickets don’t work. People take them — what’s the harm in taking free tickets?! But they feel no obligation to show up.

I also think handing out free tickets gives the recipient the idea that what he or she is about it attend is really of little or no value. Giving them a nice discount doesn’t come across quite that way.

Some will suggest that giving out comps encourages the recipients to purchase tickets the next time around. In all my years of handing out comps I don’t believe I’ve ever heard someone say, “Next time I’m gonna buy some tickets! That was great!” However I’ve frequently heard, “Thanks, and let me know when you can get some more comps!”

Just my thoughts on the matter. And that is all.


  1. I completely agree. 100% I hope that OSJ does that (they do offer cheap student tickets at 1.5 hours before curtain but that’s treated like a state secret).

  2. I always remember my Mom trying to give away our sofa-bed, which no-one would take (“What’s wrong with it?” was the comment she got), but when she offered it for $10 it became a bargain (and was promptly bought)…

    …and there wasn’t anything wrong with it other than normal wear. Well, and the attached 347 pounds of TNT, but that doesn’t really count as something wrong, does it? Really? Maybe I should call Mom…

  3. I do agree- I’m much more likely to go if I have to make a *little* bit of effort…but I’m glad I’m still a student, and can usually get $5-$15 tickets! $20 is expensive for me!

  4. “Free” does imply “not worth it”. And often that’s the case … but not with symphony tickets, I assure you! But I still think we should charge something.

    In the past, when I handed out freebies, I suggested the recipients at least donate $5 to the organization. I don’t believe anyone ever did, though.