Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Expanding the Audience

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is taking a practical step toward expanding the audience. Having gotten the message that high ticket prices are a big barrier to attendence by young people, they're going to offer many, many discount tickets:
The Boston Symphony Orchestra will offer $20 concert tickets to patrons under the age of 40 to BSO concerts for the remainder of the 2008-2009 Symphony Hall season, thanks to a generous contribution by an anonymous underwriter who will pay (subsidize) the difference between the full and discounted ticket prices.  Four thousand $20 tickets, normally priced from $29 to $115, will be made available to more than 45 Boston Symphony concerts throughout the remainder of the season.
I know some of you out there are convinced that the audience is old and getting older all the time, but read what Matthew Guerrieri had to say about this before proclaiming that the sky has fallen. Hint: absolute versus relative.


Anonymous said...

Michael Monroe, a commenter on the Guerrieri blog, has put his finger on it.

Perhaps all the symphony has to do to get sell-out audiences is provide free babysitting and $20 tickets on Saturday afternoons. It would be cheaper than the movies.

The young couples I talk to would kill for a few free hours a week after the rat race of school, job, sports and other kid activites. Make the symphony part of a place to take your children and you would be turning people away.

Celeste Winant said...

I went to MIT for undergrad. MIT was so concerned that their students would remain myopic to the greater cultural offerings of Boston, that they arranged for free admission to many of Bostons treasures for us. This translated into free BSO tickets for certain performances, if we were willing to get out of bed at 9 in the morning to stand in line at will call. I wonder if they still do this?

Henry Holland said...

I've been going to classical concerts as a teenager since the early 70's and I can say with absolutely certainty that even almost 40 years ago, I was a distinct minority re: being under 40 > 50 years old. I'd gotten in to prog rock and was interested in the composers they name checked in interviews like Bartok and Ginastera (ELP), Sibelius (Yes) and Stravinsky (King Crimson), so I pestered my dad to take me to the Bowl, Ambassador and the Dot. I was an outlier because I was a total music fanatic, how many of that sort of teenager/20-something is there?

It'll never change, orchestral music and opera will NEVER be a "young thing" and I think it's sad and pathetic to think that if they can just find the right pricing/marketing combo, that 20-somethings will flock to hear a Schoenberg/Prokofiev/Bartok concert. And the less said about abominations like "Video Game Music Night at the Symphony" or "Let's Make the Symphony A Singles Bar and Play the Most Trite, Banal, Inoffensive Music We Can" nights, the better.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Ticket prices have a lot to do with who attends. I went to free concerts at my college instead of expensive events in Boston, for example. When institutions have offered cheaper seats, younger people buy them - for example, the center terrace seats at SFS, which are essentially rush seats.