What A Great Way To Bring In New Subscribers

There’s nothing quite like experiencing three shows of Bugs Bunny At The Symphony in the space of two days, which is precisely how I spent the past weekend here in Chicago. It was particularly fun to sit in the audience and take in all of the ambient chatter.

150x150_ITA_Guy070There were no shortage of families with parents pointing out instruments and introducing kids to the concert hall and there were more than few adults attending their first live orchestra concert. One elderly gentleman with his grandchildren approached an usher to mention he had lived in Chicago his entire adult life but this was his first time inside Symphony Center. That was followed by a string of questions about the architecture, building history etc.

But one story of note occurred after that evening’s performance while catching a late dinner with the show’s creative team, conductor George Daugherty and Executive Producer David Ka Lik Wong, and this series’ pair of concertmasters (full disclosure mode: one of which is my wife).

After Bugs Bunny at the Symphony concertAfter settling in at the table, we were approached by an absolutely charming couple who had attended the show. They asked Daugherty for an autograph but also wanted to tell him that they became regular Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscribers following the first time he brought the show to Chicago more than a decade prior.

After 23 years, the show is launching a major update for the 2013-14 season; branded Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II, it already has shows scheduled at The Hollywood Bowl/Los Angeles Philharmonic, Wolf Trap/The National Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, The Minnesota Orchestra, The St. Louis Symphony, The Hong Kong Philharmonic, The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Detroit Symphony, The Wichita Symphony, and more.

It’s comforting to know the show continues to evolve and adapt but remain firmly entrenched in everything that makes it a wonderful entry vehicle into the world of live orchestral classical music.

Postscript: Daugherty authored a wonderful contribution for 2012’s Take A Friend To The Orchestra initiative; it’s an absolute must-read.

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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3 thoughts on “What A Great Way To Bring In New Subscribers”

  1. Thanks for joining us for the Looney musical magic at Orchestra Hall, Drew. And thanks for your supportive comments!!!! By the way, I later found out that the charming couple you described not only became CSO subscribers after those 2010 Orchestra Hall performances …. They actually met each other at that “Bugs” concert. I guess it just goes to show that Bugs is not only a proven audience builder, but he’s also a pretty prodigious matchmaker!!!!! Who knew?! (P.S. Your fully-disclosed wife, Holly Mulcahy, is an absolutely phenomenal concertmaster!!)

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