Behind the success of the BBC Proms

Posted on: July 8, 2013

In Friday’s (7/5) Financial Times, Andrew Clark writes, “The Proms, which run to 57 consecutive nights, are regularly billed as the world’s biggest music festival. Last year’s average attendance was 93 per cent of the Albert Hall’s 6,000-seat capacity—and that’s just a fraction of the total number listening. In the UK alone, live transmissions on BBC Radio 3 are heard by 2 million people a week, and in 2012 more than 15 million watched on television. BBC broadcasts reach a huge international audience, with more than 45 countries transmitting the Proms on radio and up to 20 tuning into the Last Night on television. Founded in the late Victorian era by an English conductor called Henry Wood, the Proms began with an altruistic mission: to make classical music affordable for all, at a time before recordings existed. That credo was enshrined in the offer of cheap standing places right under the noses of the performers—a tradition that continues, with 1,400 tickets available for £5 each … Today more than half the Proms’ £9m cost is funded by the taxpayer through the BBC licence fee (box office accounts for £4m). As the Proms brand has got bigger, boosted by digital technology, the concert series has expanded to embrace world music, gospel music and electronic music. But the core remains classical.”

Posted July 8, 2013