Orange County arts aficionados enjoyed lower ticket prices in 2008-09, but the increased attendance wasn't enough to prevent a drop in box office revenue, a Chapman University study released Monday shows.
For 24 nonprofit arts organizations surveyed both in 2005 and 2009, the average price dropped 15.5%, from $29.10 to $24.60, the study found. Paid admissions grew 11.6%, reaching 1.9 million. But the combined box office returns of the 24 arts groups were down almost 6% from mid-decade, from $49.7 million to $46.8 million.
Nevertheless, jobs in the nonprofit arts sector held up better from 2005 to 2009 than in the overall local economy, Chapman economists determined. While employment in the county fell 7.4% over that span, the number of paid positions in the arts increased 2.1%, growing to 3,618. Of those, 643 positions were full time, a gain of 4.8%. If the local arts sector were a single employer, the study notes, it would be the 23rd largest private concern in Orange County, where Disney is king with 19,800 workers.
Donations were clearly the bulwark that made jobs growth in the arts possible; contributions increased more than 25% for the 24 groups, from $45.8 million to $57.5 million. The time given by volunteers added the equivalent of 377 additional full-time employees to the county's arts work force, according to the report.