It is the beginning of January in Chicago and the sight out of my office windows features a bright, sunny day and an outdoor temperature in the mid 50’s…
This isn’t your typical Chicagoland area winter weather; in fact, Chicago didn’t even experience a White Christmas. Nevertheless, just a few states away in Colorado, the Denver area has been pounded with not one but two heavy duty blizzards capable of wrecking havoc on holiday concert schedules.
All of this made me think about concert planning during the “unpredictable” months of winter weather for areas that are traditionally used to experiencing severe weather systems. Ideally, most forward thinking orchestra administrations plan for the double-whammy of losing some ticket revenue while maintaining fixed expenses due to inclement weather conditions.
However, I find myself wondering how many organizations consider opportunities to capitalize on long stretches of unusually good weather. It isn’t as though orchestras can pull a concert out of their hat on a week’s notice but what about other activities through volunteer or audience development outreach programs?
If an orchestra owns and/or operates their primary venue, what about scheduling a special program for donors and long-time subscribers? This could be almost anything you want it to be from an entertaining coffee-talk featuring a resident conductor, musician, or artistic administrator or having the resident organist give an instrument tour. Even orchestras that don’t have a facility at their disposal can find ways to make some of these suggestions take place.
Perhaps organizations should begin to compile an email/phone list of patrons that would be interested in such activities. Image their surprise and delight in being contacted by the orchestra to take part in a spur of the moment activity. You could build fee structure to break even on modest expenses or even give the opportunity away and consider it a good-will/audience development expense.
I think there’s some real potential here and if there’s anything to the whole global Warming issue, then we have at least several decades of unseasonably warm winters before the next man-made ice age begins to take shape. As such, we might as well capitalize on it while we can.
Does anyone out there already have something like this in place? If so, I would love to hear about it so take a moment and send in a comment.