Cleveland Orchestras aims for younger audiences—and finds them

Posted on: May 27, 2014

In Monday’s (5/26) New York Times, Craig Duff files an article and video report from Cleveland.  “When Milton Maltz looked down from his box seat in Severance Hall—the stately home of the Cleveland Orchestra—he used to fear for its future. ‘I saw gray hair and no hair,’ said the longtime orchestra benefactor. ‘And I said, “Where are the young people?” ’ The aging of the audience is something all orchestras are grappling with, but Mr. Maltz decided to do something about it. He and his wife, Tamar, donated $20 million to help the orchestra build a younger audience by offering all-you-can hear ‘FanCards’ to young concertgoers that allow them to attend as many concerts as they like each season for $50. Their ambitious goal is for Cleveland to attract the youngest audience of any orchestra in America by its 100th birthday in 2018. … When the Center for Future Audiences was first endowed by the Maltz Family Foundation in 2010, students made up 8% of the audience. Last year, according to the orchestra’s figures, the number was 20%.  … The orchestra is branching into the community, even setting up residencies with small ensembles playing in local bars or on neighborhood porches.  ‘In the end, music is universal,’ said the violist Joanna Patterson Zakany, one of the orchestra’s youngest members, who played in a residency last year at the Happy Dog Bar on the city’s Near West Side. ‘You can like alternative music, you can like rock, but as long as you’re open to music in general, then you’re probably going to latch onto something in the classical realm.’ ”

Photo by Roger Mastroianni

Posted May 27, 2014