Monday, January 7, 2013

New Philharmonic Concert Cancellation

The New Phil's New Year's Eve concert was bitter sweet this year. The music was sweeter than ever under Kirk's direction, but it was bitter knowing that the last two concerts of the season would not go on. It is a difficult decision to cancel a concert and one I have only had to make a few times in my career. As theatre people the idea of "the show must go on" is engrained in our fiber; thus, not going on with the New Philharmonic season is hard to accept.

When we were presented with the reality of being away from our concert home for two seasons we asked ourselves how will we sustain the artistic momentum that New Philharmonic and Maestro Muspratt have been gaining. The orchestra has steadily been growing audience and ticket revenue over the last five years. And all would agree that the concerts are a delight to attend, so what effect would two years away from the MAC have? We were advised by some at the College to shutter the operation, that our audience would come back when we were ready for them. At the same time many of our fondest patrons were asking us where they would go for classical music through the Spring of 2014?

It roughly costs the orchestra on average $40,000 to produce each two evening concert concert cycle. The math is pretty simple, at the $32 average ticket price we need over 1,250 people to attend a concert. So when we made the decision to rent concert halls away from our own home and present a modified season (2 fewer concerts) we calculated that 80% of our current audience base would need to follow us. In reality only 40% did. When asked, and we called every subscriber, the reply we heard over and over was, "we love New Phil, we love Kirk, but venue x is too far to travel to in the winter. We'll see you next year when the MAC is back up and running."

Facing a 60% drop in ticket revenue, I made the only decision that seemed prudent. We cancelled the final two concerts of the season, Cosi fon tutte and Great Russians. We will end the season in the red and the College will have to cover our deficit. Something they have consistently done to one degree or another for the last decade.

Going forward is the next question. In the era of revenue neutral (see post from December 28) we will need to know that the dollars through the door, in the form of donations, ticket sales and sponsorships, can cover all the expenses of this fine orchestra. The College does not want to cover any deficit at the MAC with income from student tuition or tax revenues. This policy includes all MAC operations including the MAC Artist Series, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble and Schoolstage, our K-12 education program.

So the onus now is on you, our patron. If you enjoy the orchestra or value any of the offerings of the MAC let us know how you are willing to support your community performing arts center. Comment here or contact me (630) 942-3008 or

be well

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