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Brazil: The Real Value of Half Price Tickets

All links are in Portuguese language.

After the confirmation of several international shows and events in Brazil, like Rock in Rio, Festival SWU and Cirque du Soleil, the public has enjoyed a great variety of cultural and artistic events. However, due to abuses regarding the prices of tickets, the great majority of the population has not being able to purchase them.

Ticket law flouted

Even though there is a federal law for half price tickets – as the greatest portion of the public can only afford half of the total value – the events charge even higher amounts. According to the law, students and the elderly over 60 years of age pay half price across the country. Some states have their own laws, like in Paraná, where blood donors also pay only half of the total value, and in São Paulo, where teachers from the public educational system and disabled people also enjoy the benefit.

Linkin Park Concert at Festival SWU in 2010. Photo by Alexandre H. Kitamura (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Linkin Park Concert at Festival SWU in 2010. Photo by Alexandre H. Kitamura (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Since the creation of this provisory cultural incentive in 2001, there has been a considerable increase of students attending cultural and artistic events. FENEEC (Federação Nacional das Empresas Exibidoras Cinematográficas) [National Federation of Film Exhibitors], for example, says that half price tickets sales has jumped from 40%, before 2001, to the current 70%.

If the objective was to promote cultural activities among students, the law can consider itself successful. However, many found in it a loophole to pay less. According to Marcelo Moreiro, author of the blog Combate Rock:

A medida foi elaborada com a melhor das intenções, como uma forma de facilitar o acesso à cultura aos estudantes carentes e estimulá-los a procurar os espetáculos e ir a museus, por exemplo.

The spirit of this law is valid, but it was corrupted. The measure was elaborated in the best of intentions, as a way to facilitate access to culture among deprived students and stimulate them to seek shows and go to museums, for example.

In his personal blog Dr. Money, the engineer and Master in Economics and Finances Marcelo Guterman analyzes the value of half price tickets over the total revenue generated by ticket sales. Any cultural and artistic event organization must take into consideration the heavy presence of students. As a consequence, the organizers end up increasing the total value because they know the great majority of the public will only pay half, and the ones that loose out are those who have to pay full price.

Also, since it’s extremely easy to obtain a fake student identification, many started to carry one only for the purpose of paying half price, as Guterman concludes saying:

O não-estudante subsidia o estudante. E é essa justamente a idéia da lei, cheia de boas intenções. Mas ocorre que o serumano é cheio das artimanhas e, com o advento da lei, o número de estudantes com carteirinha passou a ser bem maior do que aquele que efetivamente esquenta os bancos escolares.

The non-student subsidizes the student. And that’s precisely the idea behind the law, full of good intentions. But turns out that the human being is full of tricks, and with the creation of the law, the number of students with id cards became greater than those that effectively warm school seats.
Main stage at Rock in Rio 2011 still in construction. Photo by Mel Toledo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Main stage at Rock in Rio 2011 still in construction. Photo by Mel Toledo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Inevitably, no private event will happen without a guaranteed revenue. The half price ticket law was an easy solution found by the government to promote culture because the citizens disburse the difference. Even though there are incentive laws through fiscal investments, most events depend only on private investment – and nearly half of ticket prices correspond to taxes.

Ticket prices in Brazil are among the highest in the world. Mônica Herculano tells in an article written for vocal technique professor and journalist Mariana Paes’ page, Catarse Musical, that:

Ainda assim, os brasileiros sofrem com os preços dos ingressos, muito mais altos que em outros lugares do mundo. Show da cantora Katy Perry em Los Angeles em agosto, por exemplo, custa de US$ 35 a US$ 50 (de R$ 55 a R$ 80). Em São Paulo, em setembro, o mesmo show sai de R$ 200 a R$ 450, mais taxa de conveniência (20% do ingresso) e entrega (R$ 18 em domicílio; R$ 3 na bilheteria).

Brazilians suffer with ticket prices, much higher than other places around the world. Katy Perry’s concert in Los Angeles in August, for example, costs from US$ 35 to US$ 50 (from R$ 55 to R$ 80). In São Paulo, in September, the same concert goes from R$ 200 to R$ 450, plus convenience tax (20% of total price) and delivery (R$ 18 for home delivery; R$ 3 for pickup).

The cost of half price tickets

«Ingresso justo, Show para Todos» (Fair Ticket, Concert for All) . Image shared at the site Ingresso Justo.

«Ingresso justo, Show para Todos» (Fair Ticket, Concert for All) . Image shared at the site Ingresso Justo.

While some blame the excessive taxes, others affirm that production costs in Brazil are indeed higher than other countries. Independently, the trivialization of half price tickets has certainly contributed to the elevation of the overall full price.

The site Ingresso Justo (Fair Ticket) was created with the precise intention of protesting against these abusive prices. Through the diffusion of a petition, they want to manage to readjust the total value, since:

O Brasil tem recebido cada vez mais grandes eventos que geram empregos e movimentam a economia. Queremos que a cultura seja acessível igualmente à todos independente de seu poder de consumo, classe social, cor ou sexo.

Brazil has received now more than ever huge events, which generate Jobs and boost the economy. We want culture to be equally accessible, independently from your purchasing power, social class, color or sex.

Initiatives like this call for a discussion about the half price tickets’ real impact and cultural diffusion among society. It must be remembered that in Brazil, only 14% of the population attends higher education. Fábio Volpe, writer at NJovam, remarks that:

Do total de alunos das universidades federais, 67% pertencem a famílias com renda mensal inferior a R$ 2 600. (…) Vale lembrar que as universidades privadas são responsáveis por 74% das matrículas no país.

Out of the total number of students in Federal universities, 67% belong to families with a monthly income lower than R$ 2600 [US$ 1000] (…) Private universities are responsible for 74% of all registrations in the country.

Theoretically, this law would be benefiting part of a public who already has certain financial conditions to guarantee basic access to culture. The great majority of lower social classes does not have an expressive representation in higher educations institutions, and therefore would not be benefited by this measure. Alesson Lasomorate from Metal Planaltina DF adds that:

E alunos de pós-graduação, já formados, empregados, quem gastam 20 mil reais por ano em um MBA, também têm direito a desconto de 50%.

Post-graduation students, already graduated, employed, Who spend 20 thousand reais [ 12 thousand US Dollars ] per year to finish an MBA, also have the right to a 50% discount.

And while everybody continues thinking only about their own pockets, all the citizens disburse the loss.

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