$600,000 For Printed Program Books!? There’s Got To Be a Better Way.

The good news is, there is! And you’ll be in good company with The Kennedy Center and The National Philharmonic who finally saw the light about the cost and waste of printing a full season of printed program books. Both of these well-known organizations shared similar reasons for ditching paper program books in favor of the New Publishing Model: small runs of light, printed program books combined with more robust digital versions containing the main performance content and advertising. 

When Every Dollar Matters …

As quoted in a recent Washington Post article, Jim Kelley, president and chief executive of the National Philharmonic, had this to say about the traditional paper program book: “The second you print it, it becomes obsolete.” And he couldn’t have been more right. Wasting paper on program books that were quickly outdated and often thrown away was a painful but necessary reality. So, after spending $20,000 a year to print chunky, obsolete paper program books, it was a natural fit for The National Philharmonic to adopt the Audience Access digital program book system. What started as a response to pandemic-era shifts in audience and spending quickly revealed strong practical and financial benefits as well.

“The benefit of the digital program is if there’s any mistake in the program notes, a last-minute change in the program or a change in a donor, we can do that literally moments before the concert starts, and keep it a living and breathing document,” Kelly posited. “When every dollar matters, the dollars should be going into the art and paying the musicians. It shouldn’t be going into things that don’t have a lasting effect on the organization.”

$600,000 For Printed Program Books? There IS a Better Way 

The New Publishing Model can positively impact performing arts organizations both large and small. The same Washington Post article revealed the massive financial costs and paper waste that The Kennedy Center used to generate: they used 250 tons of paper to print 1.5 million program books per season at an annual cost of nearly $400,000, according to Eileen Andrews, the Kennedy Center’s vice president of public relations. And when you include the cost of additional paper inserts for program corrections and updates, the Center easily spent an additional $200,000.

Not only do digital program books significantly reduce this cost, but they also reduce paper waste all the way from the printers to the patrons to the lobby trash cans. When it comes to digital program books, there’s no more wasted paper on printing unused program books for unsold seats, or printing program books that simply end up in the trash. 

Would your performing arts organization like to try the New Publishing Model and start to reap these same benefits? Find out more about our digital program book platform and how we can get you started with our popular “Collaborator Bundle“.  

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