In a startling revelation for Broadway’s glittering world, the lights seem to be dimming. A recent downturn in attendance echoes the unvoiced fears of not just theater producers but also New York City’s tourism sector. The 2022-23 season has unravelled a 17% fall in attendance when pitted against the last full pre-pandemic season, 2018-19. An astonishing revelation from a recent survey cites “safety concerns,” shared by suburbanites that regularly commute to Manhattan, as a significant reason behind this slump, thereby shining a spotlight onto an issue that has persisted into a growing concern.
— Daily Wire News (@DailyWireNews) January 4, 2024
According to Broadway League’s report, last season saw sales of a mere 12.3 million tickets. The once-thriving Broadway audience, that remarkably constituted 35% New Yorkers with city residents making up 22%, fell into a lull with lone numbers showing visitors from other parts of the country making up 47.5% attendance. These are striking numbers, especially considering that The New York Post revealed Broadway League’s refusal to speculate or issue a comment on these reducing figures — a visibly tight-lipped approach that leaves room for plenty of speculation.
In an elaborate survey conducted by The Situation Group covering 1,700 Broadway ticket buyers nationwide, results showed that a substantial 50% suburban audience is yet to make a comeback to Broadway due to persisting apprehensions about safety. Furthermore, a significant 41% affirmed their decline in traveling to Manhattan for leisure-related activities as opposed to their habits in the safer times of 2019.
With safety as a primary concern, a revealing 50% of the surveyed respondents cited a decrease in attending Broadway due to an evident lack of compelling shows on the menu. Meanwhile, Tom Harris, President of Times Square Alliance, in a conversation with The Post, attempted to dispel looming safety concerns. He lauds Times Square as one of NYC’s safest neighborhoods, attributing its safety record to the NYPD’s industrious men and women.
With the DAILYWIRE+ APP claiming a dramatic U-turn in crime rates, specific categories such as robberies, assaults, burglaries, and grand larceny are up by double-digit percentages from two years ago in New York City, despite reflecting a decrease compared to the previous year. Retail theft shot up by a staggering 44% from 2021 to 2022, a disconcerting trend that is bound to further deter patrons.
The latest report from the NYPD counters these disturbing trends by indicating a drop in murders and shootings by double-digit percentages in 2023, as opposed to the previous year. NYPD’s Chief of Crime Control Strategies, Michael Lipetri, vowed that they are relentlessly working towards reversing the outdated but prevalent perception of Manhattan as a crime-infested region.
In conclusion, Broadway, a jewel in New York’s tourism crown, appears to have lost its sparkle. The formidable combination of enhanced safety fears and a decline in worthwhile shows has significantly contributed to this drop in suburban patronage. Despite NYPD’s dedicated efforts towards controlling crime and changing Manhattan’s tarnished image, these findings underline an urgent need to actively address the persisting safety concerns and lackluster repertoire. Broadway’s future may very well hinge on the city’s ability to reassure audiences of their safety and provide them with experiences worth the travel and, most importantly, their peace of mind.