Key Takeaways: What We Learned

Relational Revenue

While the subscription model is not dead for the arts and cultural field as a whole, its robustness varies not only between the sectors but also among various organizational budget sizes within each sector.

We studied the relationship between earned relational revenue and expenses for organizations by sector, by budget size, and by geographic market for the year 2018.

Photo: Frederick, MD, USA - June 7, 2014: People gather on the walkway at Frederick Maryland's Linear Creek to celebrate Frederick's annual Festival of the Arts. From the Arts Vibrancy Index

Expenses Covered By Subscription and Membership Revenue, 2018 Averages by Sector

  • Symphony Orchestras have the highest percentage of expenses covered by revenue from subscriptions or memberships with earned relational revenue at 12.8%, followed closely by Theater companies at 12.4% and Opera at 12.0%. Subscriptions are heavily integrated into the operating model of these three performing arts sectors.
  • Arts Education organizations have negligible revenue from subscriptions or memberships with the earned relational revenue index at 0.8%. This activity tends to not be part of their operating model.
  • The Art Museums, Dance, PAC, and Other Museums sectors were very similar, although there was considerable variation in the magnitude of average relational revenue and average expenses among these sectors.

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How We Determine Sector

Expenses Covered By Membership and Subscription Revenue, 2018 Averages by Organization Size

  • The larger the organization, the more likely it is to cover a higher level of expenses with revenue from subscribers or members.

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How We Determine Size

Expenses Covered By Memberships and Subscriptions, 2018 Averages by Geographic Markets

  • We see considerable discrepancy across markets in the level of expenses covered by subscription and membership revenue. Earned relational revenue relative to expenses is highest in LA at 11.3%, followed closely by Small markets at 10.2%.
  • The earned relational revenue index is lowest in San Francisco at 4.1%, followed by New York at 4.8%.

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How We Determine Geographic Market

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