Thanks to ‘Hamilton’ sellouts, DPAC breaks attendance records in 2018

Durham Performing Arts Center often has been one of the country’s top-drawing theater-sized venues, and with this fall’s runaway “Hamilton” success, DPAC’s 2018 attendance was its best ever.

DPAC’s 220 events in 2018 drew a record total attendance of 508,193, the venue announced Thursday in a news release. About 150 of those events sold out at the 2,700-seat venue, DPAC reports, which is another record. That’s up from 462,055 visitors at 211 events in 2017.

“Hamilton” looms large on DPAC’s balance sheet with all 32 performances from Nov. 6 to Dec. 2 selling out for a total attendance of more than 86,000.

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Other top Broadway shows were “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Les Miserables” and “Waitress.”

Non-theatrical DPAC sellouts in 2018 included Mannheim Steamroller, Anita Baker and David Byrne, as well as comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Aziz Ansari and Joe Rogan.

DPAC’s numbers were strong enough to land it in the upper regions of various year-end charts measuring attendance and gross ticket sales, according to the news release:

DPAC is No. 4 in Pollstar magazine’s recap of top ticket sales, behind Las Vegas’ 7,000-capacity Zappos Theater and ahead of the 8,500-seat Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

No. 2 in gross sales for U.S. venues between 2,001 and 5,000 capacity, as compiled by Venues Now, right behind Atlanta’s 4,600-seat Fox Theatre.

No. 6 in Billboard’s listing of gross sales for U.S. venues under 5,000 seats, just behind New York City’s 2,900-seat Beacon Theatre.

DPAC opened in 2008 and is managed by Nederlander and Professional Facilities Management.

In November, the city of Durham reported it would receive $1.9 million from the city-owned venue in the 2017-18 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to a previous News & Observer story. That amount didn’t include the “Hamilton” run, which was in the fall.

Money in Durham’s DPAC Fund goes to maintenance and improvements for the building as well as debts and revenue shortfalls, The N&O story reported.

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David Menconi has covered music and the arts for The News & Observer since 1991. He can be reached at 919-829-4759 or dmenconi@newsobserver.com.