For every 1K spent on NZ Symphony Orchestra there are 8 spectators. 23 for NZ Ballet and 42 every 1K for Kapa Haka. #nativeaffairs
— Mihingarangi Forbes (@Mihi_Forbes) March 9, 2015
That's an interesting historic observation. It makes no claim as such, but points towards an inference. I presume(d) the $1k benchmark refers to public (taxpayer) money and responded by mentioning the obvious economic difference between the historic averages and any predictions about the impact of future funding reshuffles.
@Mihi_Forbes i presume that's an average on current data? extra $ wd have more even impact but not enough 2 change obvious implication 4 $That's pretty cryptic so let me explain. Can we please start off by assuming that the reason we spend taxpayer funds on the arts is to generate benefits for appreciators of the arts? Maybe there's another reason, in which case I'd like to hear it.
— John Small (@smalltorquer) March 9, 2015
Proceeding... One measure of the amount of benefit generated is spectator numbers. This is imperfect of course, because spectators incur costs in getting to artistic performances, whether by physically relocating to a performance venue & buying a ticket, or paying to download a track. Still, spectators is not a bad indicator.
But since we're comparing live classical music, ballet and kapa haka we really should note that the ticket prices are likely to be substantial for the first two and minimal for kapa haka. High ticket prices will curb demand, which probably accounts for much of the difference in spectator numbers per $ of public funding.
Yes, spectator numbers are choked off by the high ticket prices, but why does that mean taxpayers should pay more?
Public funds should be allocated to places where there are big spillover benefits. To my eye, that looks way more likely for kapa haka than for classical music and ballet. And may I just add that when I pay good money to attend all night outdoor parties featuring outrageously loud jungle music, it never occurs to me that there should be any taxpayer subsidy.