Cincinnati Ups Ticket Prices, Loses Buyers

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Ralph
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Cincinnati Ups Ticket Prices, Loses Buyers

Post by Ralph » Wed Aug 17, 2005 5:55 am

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

CSO sees attendance drop

By Janelle Gelfand
Enquirer staff writer

A year after raising ticket prices by an average of 25 percent, the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops orchestras saw an unprecedented drop in attendance.

Musically, Paavo Järvi has taken the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to new heights, with acclaimed recordings, world tours and thrilling performances at home.

Despite that, the orchestra lost 10 percent of its subscribers and its attendance dropped 12 percent in the 51-concert season that ended in May, in figures released today by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Average attendance was 1,707, meaning on most nights, the 3,417-seat Music Hall was half empty.

Such a steep decline in one year is unprecedented in recent symphony history. For the past decade, attendance has hovered between 1,900 and 2,000. Last season, 1,935 concertgoers heard the symphony play on an average concert evening.

The Pops, which provides nearly half of the orchestra’s ticket revenue, lost 14 percent of its subscribers. Overall, 8 percent fewer people attended Pops concerts. Pops fans also saw their ticket prices increase an average of 20 percent last season.

The orchestra said that a decline in high school subscriptions contributed to its attendance decline. High school groups, which typically attend Friday morning concerts, canceled subscriptions due to cost-cutting measures in schools, the orchestra said.

Single ticket sales, which accounted for about one third of seats sold at the symphony, remained flat for the year.

Despite the subscription decline, the Cincinnati Pops enjoys the largest average attendance – 2,296 – of any Pops orchestra in the country, said Dianne Cooper, marketing manager. In fact, the Pops' 20 concerts at Music Hall sold 17 percent more single tickets than the previous year.

Total revenue was up 9 percent for the symphony and 11 percent for the Pops. A revamped Web site resulted in an increase of 29 percent more online ticket sales than the previous season.

The orchestra did well at its summer home this year. Symphony and Pops attendance at Riverbend increased by 15.5 percent for the season that ended last month. A “Stars Wars” Pops concert with Pops conductor Erich Kunzel drew fans from all over the country, and headliners included Ricky Skaggs, The Temptations and Garrison Keillor.

Last year, the orchestra announced it aimed to close a budget gap by raising ticket prices of both its symphony and Pops Orchestra concerts in Music Hall. However, in its news release, the orchestra said that price was a “distant secondary reason” for those not renewing their subscriptions.

E-mail jgelfand@enquirer.com
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