CINCINNATI — Inflation or not, the show must go on for the Cincinnati Ballet which allowed audience members to pay whatever felt right Thursday evening. It is part of a long-term strategy.
"I think it is a wonderful concept," Roxanne Motl, a patron said.
"Particularly in today's environment where people are stressing about inflation, people are stressing about all sorts of dynamics in our environment. This is a gateway. It's another entry point."
The "Pay What You Can Thursday" concept is hardly new. A ballet in Washington used it to connect with crowds short on money in the hopes of seeing long-term gains.
After 18 months away from audiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cincinnati Ballet reeled in hundreds of people with a similar show in Eden Park last summer.
"I think spreading that as alternatives to being online or being in front of Netflix or being on TikTok or seeing a 30-second video is important," Altman said. "As many introductory access points to bring people into the conversation and to recognize that they have a remarkable ballet dance company right here in Cincinnati, that's name of the conversation. Building an audience of tomorrow is always an important core of what we do. It's important to grow the audience or it will eventually atrophy."
Revenue is important but hardly everything for the ballet, Altman added.
Ensuring fair access to the arts is a priority too, he said. It is also changing what is acceptable in ballet audiences.
"Come in shorts," Altman said. "Come in jeans. Scream loudly when you see something you enjoy and laugh and cry and applaud and say 'that was awesome.'"
"It warms my heart to know that the city cares enough about all of their people in order to expose them to the kind of arts that are available here."
Learn more about the ballet's upcoming performances here.