#TBT Alexa, Why Should I Get Off The Couch and Go To An Orchestra Concert?

Holly Mulcahy recently issued a challenge at her blog, Neo Classical, asking readers to come up with solutions to some of the most common apathy driven reasons why people don’t attend live orchestra concerts. But there’s a trick, you can’t use one of several old-school talking points.

Below I’ll list several common reasons people opt out…Find one or two solutions to each reason without using the phrases: Great Repertoire, Guest Artist, or Your Support….Claiming that repertoire and/or a guest artist should be a draw alone is amateur at this level. And shaming people into the mindset that they need to show their support for their local orchestra by buying tickets is ludicrous. Why should they, what’s in it for them?

Find a creative solution or solutions for some real reasons why people stay away:

  1. The parking lot is hard to get out of after a concert.
  2. There is too much talking from the stage.
  3. People don’t know when to clap.
  4. People forget to shut off their cell phones or other disruptions from the audience.
  5. There are no restaurants near the hall. Or restaurants are not open after a concert.
  6. People don’t feel welcome yet get asked for donations week upon week after the concert.
  7. The orchestra looks bored.
  8. The seats are cramped.
  9. Finding babysitting is rough.
  10. Family of four costs more than going to the movies.

Stay On The Couch

In addition to Holly’s verboten list, I’ll add the following words/phrases you can’t use for your solutions:

  • world class
  • maestro
  • beloved
  • mission driven
  • life changing

We’ve touched on all 10 of the items from Mulcahy’s stay-away list but more to the point, and to tie things in with the #TBT nature of today’s post, I want to point out some of the stellar contributions to the Take A Friend To The Orchestra program from years past.

There are no shortage of contributions from some of the sharpest minds in the business address one or more of these reticence points in their contribution. Here are a some of my favs:

TAFTO 2012 Contribution: Jonathan Becker

TAFTO 2005 Contribution: Bill Eddins

TAFTO 2006 Contribution: Alex Shapiro

TAFTO 2009 Contribution: Molly Sheridan

TAFTO 2005 Contribution: George Hunka

TAFTO 2007 Contribution: Leonard Slatkin


Be sure to swing by the Take A Friend To The Orchestra resource site for the full list of contributions by year, type, or author.

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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