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Investigating how the attributes of live theatre productions influence consumption choices using conjoint analysis: the example of the National Arts Festival, South Africa

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Ken Willis, Dr Jeanette Snowball


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While there is a fair amount of work on determinants of demand for the live performing arts, results have often been contradictory with little explanatory power. This may be because of the difficulty in describing the attributes of a performance, particularly in terms of its quality, and the heterogeneity of consumer preferences. This article uses conjoint analysis, also called choice experiments, to investigate the impact of the attributes of live theatre performances on demand, using data collected from 483 randomly chosen attenders at live theatre performances at the 2008 South African National Arts Festival. Attributes include the type of cast (professional, semi-professional or amateur), reputation of the producer/director, the context or setting, production type and ticket price of the show. Results largely support the a priori expectations based on the results of other demand studies. For example, it is found that the age of consumers affects the type of show chosen, that utility and willingness to pay increase for shows with professional and semi-professional casts and that 93% of the potential audience prefer shows with a South African context. It is concluded that the method could prove useful to both event organisers and policy makers, especially where the goal is to broaden access to the arts.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Willis KG, Snowball JD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Cultural Economics

Year: 2009

Volume: 33

Issue: 3

Pages: 167-183

Print publication date: 01/08/2009

ISSN (print): 0885-2545

ISSN (electronic): 1573-6997

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10824-009-9097-z


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