TAFTO Reader Response A Question For Mr. Fogel

An Adaptistration reader who wishes to remain anonymous submitted the following question to Henry Fogel after reading his TAFTO contribution.

Question:  Do the ASOL members have future plans to institute some form of this middle-class- friendly ticket policy for orchestra level seats?  Or are orchestras only interested in nurturing rich and affluent, and generally suburban, audiences?  (And please, Mr. Fogel, don’t tell me to avail myself of the $25 third-tier side obstructed view seats.  I have tried that with other professional friends and it completely turned them off from classical orchestral music concerts.)


Here is Henry’s response:

Obviously, every orchestra sets its own ticket pricing policies, so it’s not as though the League can (or should) dictate this. But I do know that many orchestras have ticket prices in good seats in the $25 range, not just “third tier obstructed view.” For instance, the Chicago Symphony prices its entire gallery at or under $25 (yes, it’s the third tier, but it has terrific sound and good sightlines, and over 400 seats). Other large-city orchestras similarly have a meaningful number of seats with good views available for that same price (Atlanta, Cleveland and Baltimore come to mind). 

In smaller cities, prices tend to be lower. I am not sure why “orchestra level seats” are important to the writer, but the idea of having good seats available at reasonable prices is in fact something that is practiced today in most American orchestras.  Orchestras know that they must reach the widest variety of people interested in classical music while simultaneously covering the costs of producing concerts, which as any music lover realizes, is a balancing act.

– Henry Fogel

Both question and answer certainly spark further thought in my mind, what do you think about ticket pricing?  Will ticket prices have an impact on your participating in Take a Friend to Orchestra month?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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