The Sunshine Economy: The Business Of The 'Hamilton' Bump
The “'Hamilton' Bump” is not a dance move during the blockbuster musical. It is a financial move driven by the hugely successful show.
When a tour of the Broadway show plays at a theater, the “'Hamilton Bump'” means an increase in audiences, especially new-to-the-theater audiences—and money. Hamilton is playing now at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach and opens next week at the Arsht Center in Miami. The musical played a year ago at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Each theater is experiencing a bump in business because of 'Hamilton.'
The show meant "substantially" higher revenue at the Broward Center last fiscal year according to CEO Kelley Shanley. And the bump wasn't confined to that show.
"It wasn't just that 'Hamilton' did well that year. Every other Broadway show that we presented [did well]," said Shanley. "Also we had our biggest year for concert sales. ['Hamilton'] seemed to create a level of energy and interest in what was going on. People came out for more." Shanley reported the Broward Center's Broadway ticket subscriptions jumped 40 percent compared to before 'Hamilton.'
Kravis Center in West Palm Beach began hosting a three week run of 'Hamilton' in January. Senior Director of Programming Lee Bell said subscription sales jumped by almost 50 percent to 11,000 as fans scrambled to get tickets before the center began selling single-show tickets. "Everything is doing quite well for us," Bell said. Total sales at the performing arts center for the current season is around $22 million according to Bell. That would represent a 22 percent jump from the year before 'Hamilton.'
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts anticipates a similar bump in its budget. 'Hamilton' opens for a four week run beginning in mid-February.
"There's no denying there's a 'Hamilton' bump," said Arsht CEO Johann Zietsman. "There's no denying there's an incredible excitement. We all love having shows like that in our house. And I think our communities do, too."
Experiencing the bump is one thing. Capturing and using it into the future is another.
"When the show goes, we're still here in Miami and still live here," said Zietsman. "So for us, 'Hamilton' is another piece in the relationship-building puzzle. The show will come and go, but our relationship with people will prevail."
'Hamilton' still is playing at the Kravis Center, but already Bell said there is talk about adding an eighth Broadway production to the usual seven on next year's schedule. "With the new buyers coming into view, we're going to try to retain them for the future."
New buyers are a key part of the 'Hamilton' bump. About a third of ticket buyers at the Broward Center and Kravis Center are first-time customers according to the theaters. That's about 30,000 people who visited the Broward Center for the first time due to 'Hamilton.' "The ability to reach new audiences is really an important part of what it did for all the centers that it has visited," said Shanley.
By the time mid-March rolls around, 'Hamilton' will have been staged over 100 times in South Florida in 15 months. If all the shows sell out, and they almost always do, nearly 250,000 seats will have been filled at the three performing arts centers that have already, will soon or are soon hosting the musical. Those theaters are separated by less than 70 miles.
That represents one of the highest concentrations 'Hamilton' shows outside of its open-ended run on Broadway and its recently closed production in Chicago. But the show's hosts in South Florida do not think the market is saturated.
"There's a lot of people that could come and see it without having to worry about cannibalization," said Zietman. "Over these four weeks, we're going to have about 70,000 seats available. And there's two-and-a-half-million people living in the county."
Before the show opens in Miami, it is playing in West Palm Beach. "It hasn't cannibalized at all. We're all almost completely sold out," said Bell with the Kravis Center.