At least, that’s the picture depicted in the Cincinnati Enquirer from an article written by Janelle Gelfand and Cliff Peale…
The 8/18/2007 article reports that Cincinnati Symphony "[a]verage attendance slid 10 percent, single-ticket sales were down 16 percent and subscriptions fell nearly 14 percent for the symphony’s 53-concert season that ended in May." The article goes on to demonstrate how this dip in attendance fits into the historical picture.
According to figures published in the Enquirer article, since the 2000-2001 season the organization’s average attendance has slipped by 24.138 percent. The change in average attendance from season to season is illustrated in the chart to your left.
At the heart of the article is a discussion around what could have caused such a large reduction in average attendance. In a move that I think is right on mark, the authors point out that "average attendance has dropped markedly since it raised ticket prices by an average of 25 percent three years ago."
It should come as no surprise that price is an issue and the Enquirer article invites readers to weigh in on the topic via their Classical Music blog (overseen by Janelle Gelfand). At the time this article was published there are 20 comments, many of which present some interesting viewpoints, not the least of which focus on ticket prices, fees, and related concert going expenses. I was particularly intrigued by one reader who focused on the "elitist" attitude she claims the organization projects through their marketing and advertising efforts.
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Cincinnati Symphony pegged some of their attendance woes on the size of their 3,400 seat Music Hall. Granted, that’s a barn no doubt about it, but the fact remains that they are only selling 1,540 seats per concert which would still only amount to 77 percent capacity in a 2,000 seat venue. All in all, a figure that is a good 13 percent lower than an acceptable standard. As such, even if the organization eliminated 41 percent of their seats via a hall rehab, last season’s sales figures would still fall short of acceptable attendance levels.