Responding to today’s indieWIRE article about the 50% ticket price jump at the Tribeca Film Festival, bloggers David Poland and Jeff Wells have both used the exact same word to describe the move: arrogant. The term has certainly crossed my mind (and mouth) more than once since learning the news (and I’ve also heard the same word from other people).
Increasing ticket prices to $18 for most movies is a bold and shocking move by a festival that unapologetically burst onto the scene six years ago after 9/11. In particular, the ill-fated decision sends an unfortunate message to many people in the industry, some of whom are silently skeptical about the motives and future of the event. Earlier this month an industry insider whom I respect confided a deep resentment towards the Tribeca Film Festival, detailing numerous reasons based on specific encounters over the years. I can only imagine what that person is saying to co-workers today after reading the news.
In its first few years I consistently praised Tribeca for one important thing, its committment to creating a community event aimed at engaging a broad cross section of New Yorkers and supporting diverse filmmakers. I was thorougly excited to see such an amazing array of people at the festival in the early years, people of many colors, ages and backgrounds. It was something I rarely saw at other film events in this city. I believe this decision will impact the broad community of support this festival has developed.
In recent background conversations that I cannot quote, I heard more than one festival insider defend the pricing decision as being in keeping with the high cost of cultural activities in NYC and linked the move to the higher cost of living hear than anywhere else. I personally find such logic elitist and offensive; if this big-budgeted festival is really so expensive to produce that it needs to be priced so high, then scale it back. A populist form of entertainment that sometimes reaches the level of art is not only for the rich people of Manhattan. The Tribeca Film Festival was an event created to foster community among those who live here and those in the industry. In my opinion, this decision threatens both those goals.
What do you think?