If you’ve been thumbing through your Spoleto program this week, belatedly deciding what to attend, take note: prices printed in the guide are higher than they appear. This is because the festival adjusts tickets based on demand. While not exactly a secret — Spoleto lists this information on its How to Buy Tickets FAQ — you won’t find this caveat on the front page of the festival’s website.
So, what does that mean? Well, for example, in the program The Importance of Being Earnest was billed as starting at $40. However, tickets now start at $50.
“This is our third season doing what is called dynamic pricing which enables us to increase/decrease/change prices according to demand,” explains Jennifer Scott, Spoleto Festival USA’s director of marketing and public relations. “It’s a subtle approach, but it does mean that prices can change from when we first go on sale.”
As we’ve been told by other area festival employees, the practice is fairly standard these days. Scott adds, “Our prices range within each show depending on the seat placement and we always ensure there are the minimum priced seats available when we go on public sale.”
And Scott says that ticket sales continue to bring in less than 40 percent of Spoleto’s revenue. “This year’s Festival is huge and ticket sales are excellent, but they still cover less than half the cost of what it takes for us to put on such an expansive Festival,” says Scott. “We still need sponsors and donors to get to that break-even mark. It’s a very different scenario from, say, Broadway where they can charge $500 or more for a Hamilton ticket because of demand and it’s making producers very, very rich.”
Moral of the story: if you want to get the cheapest tickets, you better buy the day the Spoleto box office opens.