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Take a Chance on Me

Date: Sep 08, 2009


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If TDF's newest ticketing service were an ABBA song, it would be "Take a Chance on Me."

That's because the "off-Off  @ $9" program lets TDF members sample a wide variety of off-Off Broadway shows for only $9 per ticket, making it affordable and easy to take a chance on emerging artists and innovative productions.

A supplement to our long-standing voucher program, "off-Off @ $9" lets members reserve online tickets to any available off-Off Broadway show, meaning they can know for certain that a seat will be waiting for them at the production and performance of their choice.

The reduced ticket price and guaranteed seat make it easy for theatre lovers to explore the exciting world of off-Off Broadway theatre, which is traditionally where tomorrow's most famous artists make their first big splash.

"The program really encourages people to try out things they might not be familiar with," says Ginger Dzerk, ticketing services manager of the off-Off Broadway theatre complex 59E59. "Because it's been given that lower ticket price, a show costs less than a movie, which makes it easier to say, 'Hey, this sounds interesting. Let's check it out.'"

The freedom to be spontaneous can encourage patrons to visit theatres and support artists they've never heard of before. "I think people who aren't regular theatregoers can sometimes assume that the theatre is expensive," says Dzerk. "Because of that, they might feel they have to be an expert on a show before they can see it. But the theatere really is a popular entertainment, and I think this $9 ticket price will make it feel that way."

Of course, it's not just members who benefit from the program. "I've found that by selling our tickets through TDF, we're expanding our circle of people who know who we are," says Rob Neill, managing director of the iconic off-Off Broadway troupe the New York Neo-Futurists. "Sometimes that's ten new people a night, and sometimes that's one, but that's all good in my book."

"off-Off @ $9" also provides companies with much-needed exposure. Because off-Off Broadway production budgets are often infinitesimal, many troupes don't have the resources to aggressively market their shows or pay for the services of online ticketers who charge commissioning fees. As a result, many tickets are left unsold, and producers must either give them away or face empty seats. "We get a lot of fantastic shows in here that just get overlooked because they don't have the money or the experience to create a marketing machine," says Erika Feldman, general manager of the Theatre Row complex. "I've been saying for five years that nothing exists to help these great little shows get the word out."

Because theatres receive all the money from tickets they sell through "off-Off @ $9"---TDF takes no fee---they are able to earn at least a portion of a ticket's cost while also reaching well beyond their usual circle of patrons. Feldman says, "The program gives companies an opportunity to learn how to sell tickets to a show, which is a skill. It's much more than e-mailing your friends and hoping they show up."

In other words, "off-Off @ $9" gives audiences and artists alike a new way to reach each other. And who knows? That could lead to a long-lasting relationship.

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