The Future of Fusebox
Why we’re shifting our ticketing model this year
We are thrilled to share our recently announced plans for the future. Fusebox and Texas Performing Arts have forged a significant new partnership that will bring a slate of fresh, unique performances to the Austin community throughout the year beginning in the fall of 2023. As part of the move to year-round programming, Fusebox’s annual festival will become biennial following its 20th anniversary edition in April 2024. This shift will allow for deeper development of new works, longer-term relationships with artists, and planning of larger scale works. The new biennial festival will continue to take place at sites across the city in 2026 and beyond.
In order to properly support this expanded vision for the future, and in an attempt to keep up with the economic realities of creating/producing unique live performances in an increasingly expensive Austin, we are shifting to a paid ticketing model for the festival this year. Tickets will be offered on a sliding scale model, starting at $20 (with $15 walk-up tickets). Additionally, we will still offer free performances and events throughout the festival.
As an organization, we continue to prioritize paying artists (our largest festival expense each year), and the introduction of a sliding scale ticketing model will allow us to continue this financial commitment to artists while still embracing our belief in accessibility.
Starting March 14th, tickets will be released in 2 waves. On the 14th a small, limited number of festival passes will be available for sale. A pass gets you early access to advance reservations (one ticket for each show per pass). Following that, on March 28th, individual tickets will go on sale. A limited number of rush tickets ($15) will also be available at the door one hour prior to the start of each performance.
“We began Free Range Art (our initiative that made the entire festival free) eight years ago. It was initially set up as a 3-year experiment. We wanted to see what a free festival would do. We were interested in removing financial barriers but also in imagining a different kind of space for people to gather and encounter art and performance–a space that was really just about sharing ideas and being in the room with each other. We also wanted to carve out a moment in the year that was decidedly not business as usual, and eliminating paid tickets spoke to this strategy. After those first three years we saw a 60% increase in first-time festival goers, and on average our audiences were seeing twice as many things within the festival (a deep level of engagement). So we decided to keep doing it as long as it made sense.
Fast forward to 2022, and our entire festival sold out (even though tickets were free) in less than an hour. In many ways this is a great problem to have. We have a passionate community base that wants to go see everything. The only issue is that it became inaccessible for other folks. So this year, part of our interest in re-introducing paid ticketing is to slow down (even slightly) the velocity with which advance tickets are flying off the shelves. Secondly, coming out of a pandemic that was particularly brutal to the performing arts world, coupled with no Cultural Arts Funding from the City of Austin this past year, coupled with an increasingly expensive environment, we are in real need of a new revenue stream, even a modest one. By adopting a sliding scale ticketing model, including $15 walk-up tickets, we’re trying to remain true to our commitment to accessibility while also generating enough income to stay alive in an ever changing landscape. It’s either that, or close up shop, and we’ve still got too much we want to do. We’ve actually never been more excited about what’s to come as we enter this next chapter of Fusebox.”
– Ron Berry, Fusebox Executive + Co-Artistic Director