Philadelphia Orchestra focuses on audience retention

Posted on: April 23, 2010

Thursday (4/22) on National Public Radio’s website, Joel Rose writes, “This week, the Philadelphia Orchestra begins a tour of Korea, Japan and China. For the orchestra, it may be a welcome vacation from problems at home. Sagging attendance and ballooning deficits have raised the possibility of bankruptcy. Philadelphia’s was the first American orchestra to perform in Communist China, back in 1973, and it’s still considered one of the top ensembles in the country. But lately, the Philadelphia Orchestra is having a tough time filling seats. … An orchestra that was selling close to 90 percent of its tickets three years ago is selling only 70 percent now. Philadelphia is hardly the only orchestra that’s seeing a drop-off in ticket sales during the recession. But the decline here has been unusually steep. ‘That’s a greater-than-average decline,’ says Jesse Rosen at the League of American Orchestras. ‘That’s a significant falloff in a short amount of time.’ Rosen, whose father ran the orchestra in the 1980s, says part of the problem in Philadelphia has been a lack of leadership. The orchestra has been without a full-time music director for two years. And it was without a CEO for 10 months. Allison Vulgamore took that job in January and quickly turned her attention to the orchestra’s budget deficit.” That deficit has already shrunk from a projected $8 million to $3 million, mostly thanks to donations from its board of trustees. “Still, Vulgamore says it’s time for the orchestra to take a fresh look at what it does.”

Posted April 23, 2010