Stats for German Performing Arts 1999/2000

September 5, 2001

Here are some stats for the 1999/2000 season of Germany's public theaters (opera houses, concert halls and spoken theaters) which are funded almost entirely by the state:

+ Number of different productions: 4718 

+ Income from ticket sales: 698 million marks. (290 million dollars even at the current high exchange rate, and which is only a relatively small fraction of their funding.)

+ Number of employees: 39,725.

+ Number of performances: 117,000.

+ Number of attendees: just short of 35 million people.

The yearly attendance for stadium sports events in Germany (mostly soccer) is approximately 9 million. At 35 million, the yearly attendance for performing arts events is three times higher. 

Source for the above data: "Mehr Besucher in Theater als in Stadien" __Schwäbische Zeitung__ (September 4, 2001/Nr. 204):9. 

I don't have stats for the performing arts in the USA, but to give a sense of comparison, comparable per capita figures for the United States would mean that 115 million people would have attended a total of 384,930 performances presented by full time, year round, fully professional ensembles in theaters dedicated -solely- to to the performing arts with ticket sales of 952 million dollars. These theaters would be staffed by 130,695 full time employees (all civil servants with full benefits and pensions) who would have presented multiple performances of 15,552 different productions.

It is interesting to contemplate what kind of society the USA would be if it had such civic standards. Interest in the performing arts doesn't just happen on its own. It requires an effort, a level of intelligence, commitment, and human dignity that societies must cultivate. From ten to twenty percent of the 117,000 performances in Germany each year are given at reduced prices for attendance by young people.

Since the USA has only about 20 orchestras with 52 week seasons (compared to 144 in Germany with less than one third the population,) and since the USA has only one 52 week season opera house (The Met), you can imagine how low the real numbers are. The demeaning world of commercial television has become the cultural reality of American families largely because they have no alternative. 

America's lack of social responsibility has had cataclysmic effects on our urban environments and is deeply destructive to the nation's cultural identity and lives of its artists. 

There are many ways to help. One might be to join a committee of an arts organization (such as the IAWM) and help shape the organization to what you think it ought to be. 

William Osborne
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