Today, many orchestras around America are experiencing extreme financial problems. Yet, as WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, one ensemble is bucking the trend.
Strikes, lockouts and deficits. Throughout the past year in particular, tales of rancor between musicians and management, financial shortfalls, and dwindling audience numbers have been the dominant headlines about classical music.
Though agreements have been reached in Philadelphia, Detroit, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, locked out musicians at The Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have yet to begin their seasons.
There are some bright spots: The New York Philharmonic, now the world’s most industrious orchestra, is reporting a bumper year for fundraising while the National Symphony in DC quietly negotiated and signed a new four-year agreement with its musicians.
The most notable good news, though, comes from the Cleveland Orchestra. In the final months of 2012, it saw a remarkable 47% increase in attendance at Severance Hall, much of it made up of younger concert goers. In addition, the orchestra is reporting a year-on-year increase in revenue of 24%.
The Cleveland Orchestra’s chief marketing officer is Ross Binney. He says this upswing is not just about good marketing.
We’re certainly having some fun on the marketing side, but I think we’re seeing a slight pickup in the economy, perhaps, and our diversified programming is certainly at the forefront of that regeneration.
In addition the orchestra has made a concerted attempt to attract music students from local schools, colleges and conservatories
We’ve employed some student ambassadors who are promoting us heavily.
Meantime closer to home, classical audiences in the first state were relieved to be able to return to the concert hall as the Delaware Symphony Orchestra recently began its season after a three month delay.