PARKERSBURG - As the economic crisis continues, one of the areas being hit is entertainment and some of those effects are being felt locally at the Parkersburg Actors Guild, the Mid-Ohio Valley Players and the Smoot Theatre.
Susan Schuchts, president of the Actors Guild, said the guild has seen slower ticket sales during the past year.
Even during the best of times, the guild and its productions are in competition for entertainment dollars with other entertainment options. Schuchts said she couldn't give an estimate of the amount of change in sales, but there has been a noticeable decrease.
In addition, the competition for grants is also becoming tougher and more competitive. The guild couldn't operate on ticket revenues alone and grant funds are important to the organization and its activities, she said.
Schuchts said the guild is taking steps which it hopes will have positive impacts on attendance and financing. The guild recently refurbished the 30-year-old seats in its theater.
The guild has also instituted a two-for-one ticket sale on the opening night of each guild production this season, allowing patrons to buy two tickets for the price of one, she said.
Another step has involved more coordination and cooperation among the guild and other arts programs in the area, including the Smoot Theatre and the Parkersburg Art Center, she said. The arts programs are with the Parkersburg-Wood County Convention and Visitors Bureau and other agencies to find ways to stretch resources to reach more people, she said.
Smoot Executive Director Felice Jorgeson said she has yet to see a difference in ticket sales in 2008 because of the economy, but said changes could be coming in the future.
Jorgeson said she began seeing a decrease in ticket sales about three or four years ago. The reduction was not due to the economy, but rather the aging of the Smoot's core audience, she said.
Changes have been made to the Smoot programming over the past several years to attract a wider range of patrons, especially younger audiences, Jorgeson said.
While the situation is stable at the Smoot, Jorgeson said it could change in the near future, possibly in the spring or summer. Jorgeson works a year in the future on scheduling and financing, such as grants and other funding sources, so things look stable for the 2008-2009 season which runs through May.
"I think we're going to get through this year (through spring) just fine. I don't know what will happen after that," Jorgeson said.
In Marietta, the Mid-Ohio Valley Players will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2009.
Jena Blair, marketing director for the Players, said ticket sales for the current season have been holding steady. The group recently worked with staff and students from Marietta College to evaluate the box office and determined it has among the lowest ticket prices in the area.
She believes that is one factor in the Players' favor.
The organization will also work with the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau this year to mark the golden anniversary. Those efforts will kick off Jan. 29 and run through the year.
Blair hopes the situation remains positive for the Players. The group does numerous surveys to make sure people are pleased with the programs and other offerings and she hopes that close relationship with the audience will help weather any future problems.