Crunching the numbers on virtual concerts by Philadelphia’s arts groups

Posted on: February 17, 2021

During the pandemic, “The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society’s move to online [concerts] brought something unexpected: a new and viable business model,” writes Peter Dobrin in Saturday’s (2/13) Philadelphia Inquirer. “In the first few months of operations … viewership for the season’s first 13 events has averaged 3,200 per concert. For an in-the-flesh sell-out, about 350 listeners turn up to hear works of Schubert or Vivian Fung in the American Philosophical Society’s Benjamin Franklin Hall…. PCMS’s online concerts have drawn a strong local following…. PCMS’s virtual concerts are technically free of charge, but the pay-as-you-wish donation model has drawn … an average of $7,500 in donations per concert … roughly equal to the paid ticket revenue PCMS typically collected pre-pandemic… ‘The concerts really are paying for themselves,’ says Philip Maneval, PCMS’s executive director…. Most arts troupes … are adapting to digital life. Opera Philadelphia has so far sold digital passes and rentals to more than 1,500 households for its series of original-for-online operatic films. The Philadelphia Orchestra is selling between 1,400 and 1,500 tickets for its online concerts for $15 and $17 a pop.… For all groups now, philanthropy is critical.”