What Sticky Floors And Orchestras Have In Common

Arts Journal weblog neighbor, Martha Bayles, published a great little article the other day about how the atmosphere at a typical Cineplex is one of the predominant factors in the declining attendance figures for that industry.  Says Martha,

“[Will] the new “Star Wars” prequel will reverse the overall decline in theater-going. Surely not! Long before we humble consumers figured out that we were not alone in preferring to watch DVDs at home, the industry had us pegged. For some years now, Hollywood has been happy to take its real profits from shiny little discs than from all those dreadful Cineplexes with their icky decor, endless ads and previews, crummy projection and sound, and sticky floors.”

Does this sound familiar?  It should, because the same root issues exist for orchestras.  It’s not the classical music itself which is the cause for what some in the business describe as “market driven declining demand”.  It has much more to do with the actual experience of getting to the concert and enduring the venue.

I’m going to publish an article on Monday at Neo Classical, my column over at The Partial Observer, which explores this idea in more detail.  It’s just too important of an issue to let slip away.  In the meantime, go give Martha’s article a once over, it’s well worth the time.

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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