Broadway fans grow more diverse

Audiences skewing younger, less wealthy

Broadway auds got a bit younger, a bit more diverse and slightly less rich during the 2006-07 season — all good things indicating that the Rialto is becoming somewhat less the exclusive domain of rich white folks.

Average age went down 2% to 41.2 years, while nonwhite theatergoers accounted for 3.18 million tickets (of the total 12.3 million sold that season), up 13% from the prior season. Average household income went down $3,200 to $98,900.

The reduced age can be attributed to the profusion of family-friendly fare on Broadway in recent years, ranging from Disney offerings to teen draws such as “Rent,” “Wicked” and “Spring Awakening.” The season saw a record 1.42 million admissions from under-18 theatergoers — up 23% — while admissions for adults 18-24 grew 9% to 1.29 million.

Meanwhile, over the past two years, “The Color Purple” has had unprecedented success drawing black auds and was a factor in the boost in minority theatergoers. (Later this season, Upper Manhattan-set tuner “In the Heights” could prove similarly effective in attracting Latino auds.)

The league report suggests that the lowered household income could be a counterintuitive mark of a healthy economy and of increased consumer confidence since economic downturns have seemed to prompt only the very wealthy to spring for Rialto tickets.

As usual, a boffo tourism market in Gotham funneled a chunk of change toward Broadway, with non-New Yorkers accounting for 65% of tickets sold. International visitors generated a record 1.9 million admissions.

Theatergoers continue to be predominantly female (64%), and women remain the major decisionmakers when it comes to ticket buying. The prevalence of Internet sales continued apace and, extending a trend that began on 9/11, purchasers continued to buy tickets closer to the date of the show than prior to 2001. Last season, 27% bought ducats the day of the show.

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