Declining boomer support puts financial strain on orchestras

Posted on: December 9, 2009

In Wednesday’s (12/9) AARP Bulletin Today, Michael Zielenziger writes about declining attendance at orchestras and opera companies. “Executives of symphony orchestras and opera companies routinely acknowledge that part of the problem lies with patrons 50 and over—the core of their support. The stinging economic decline, rising unemployment and the severe loss in pension and retirement balances for older Americans, is trickling down to classical music organizations across the country, forcing them to trim budgets, lay off staff and find new ways to cut costs and raise revenue. … ‘As the baby boom generation grew up, that actually has helped fuel orchestra attendance,’ says Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. But in the past few years, attendance has not kept up with the increasing number of boomers crossing the 50-year-old threshold. ‘We’re not getting the same share of them as we used to,’ Rosen says.” The article quotes Lowell Noteboom, current League chairman and a former chair of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, as well as representatives of the San Francisco Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra, and the opera companies of San Francisco and Chicago. The story points out innovative steps orchestras are taking, citing the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, which has expanded its base by performing in suburban venues, and the Cleveland Orchestra, which has established an annual residency in Miami.

Posted December 9, 2009