Some Good News For Indianapolis

Adaptistration People 074According to an article in the 12/6/2014 edition of the Indianapolis Business Journal by Lou Harry, it looks like things are looking better for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) since their bout of labor problems and prolonged executive dysfunction. The article reports that the orchestra’s recent marketing investment in their holiday pops program, “Yuletide Celebration,” has been paying off.

For 2014, ISO added VIP seats—which include valet parking and meet-and-greets with the cast—for $250 a pop, hoping to sell an average of 10 per performance. [ISO CEO Gary] Ginstling said that, so far, they are selling well. He also pushed for “Yuletide” sales to begin earlier in the season.

In mid-September, tickets were available only to ISO subscribers, encouraging them to buy before the general public. The result: Before the show even opened, there were, according to Ginstling, “very few good seats left.” It also helped reduce marketing costs for later weeks. And it cut the need for discounting—something the ISO does very little of for “Yuletide”.

Ultimately, increased ticket sales and near sellout capacity are decided good business. At the same time, it would be interesting to see how much of an investment the ISO put into this season’s efforts in order to determine the actual marketing performance, compare that to the past few seasons, then see what plans are in store for future marketing performance levels.

Are the current (and likely increased) marketing expenditures the new norm or will this season’s higher capacities result in improved marketing performance for 2015/16 and increased dynamic unearned income (a revenue twofer)? If nothing else, such a review would likely produce a useful report for others to use in determining risk return ratios for similar efforts.

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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