Seems the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra is doing things right these days.

Evansville, Indiana           After announcing a new business philosophy in March of 2010, overall ticket sales for the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Out of This World” 2010-2011 season rose 20%.  While other orchestras are seeing their audiences decline or are filing for bankruptcy, the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra became one of the first orchestras in the country to adopt a new business model that appears to be working well. 

Last year, the Evansville Philharmonic announced it was changing the way it was doing business.  The Philharmonic understood one of the barriers preventing people from experiencing the orchestra was cost.  The organization removed that barrier by embracing a new philosophy regarding ticket prices. “On one hand we are embracing a new philosophy, on the other we are returning to the most basic of business principles: Offer a great product at a fair and reasonable price,” says Glenn Roberts, executive director of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra.  During the 2009-2010 season, only 8% of the hall was less than $25.  Now 70% of seats in the hall are $15, $20, or $25.  The Philharmonic eliminated facility fees, service fees and premium prices for its full series subscribers.  It also offered, and continues to offer, a money-back guarantee for new subscribers and a 50% discount on Grand and Classics series subscriptions for full-time students and children.  The Philharmonic started a new program called club2030, which allows members ages 18-39 to purchase best seats available for just $10 per ticket.  The membership of club2030 has grown to more than 350 members.  Student Rush tickets were also lowered to $8 for full-time students and children 12 and under.
It was the Philharmonic’s hope these measures would help the orchestra be more accessible to the public it serves and thus, more of the Tri-State community would become involved in its orchestra. Based on the numbers, that hope is becoming reality.  The Evansville Philharmonic increased its number of season ticket holders, or subscribers, for the first time in over a decade.  The organization had hoped to grow its subscription base by 4% in 2010-2011.  It ended the season surpassing that goal and nearly doubling it with a surprising growth of over 7%.  Overall ticket sales increased 20% over last season.  That translates to an average of 212 more ticket buyers per performance than last season.  Also, the number of season ticket holders who have become donors increased by 15%.  Donations to the Philharmonic Fund, the orchestra’s major annual fundraising campaign representing primarily individual donations, increased by 12% from $265,000 to $300,000. 

Still, the orchestra is not without its challenges. While the audience is growing, the ticket revenue decreased by 7%, which the Philharmonic expected.  Corporate support is still a volatile area as businesses continue to struggle in the current economy.  Bequests in 2010-2011 were down and the Philharmonic’s two major fundraising events during the season fell short of budgeted revenue.  So, the orchestra, like virtually all non-profits, has had to tighten its belt even more through continuing a wage freeze for its musicians for the third year in a row, a 3% pay cut for its administrative staff, a 5% pay cut for its executive staff, and other expense cuts. 

Despite the belt-tightening, the Philharmonic believes the new business model is doing exactly what it should:  growing the audience and increasing individual donations.  “We’re reaching more people, touching more lives,” says Carrie Marrett, director of marketing for the Philharmonic. “The numbers clearly illustrate our community is showing increasing support of our efforts.  That’s strong and encouraging evidence we’re doing the right thing.”  Roberts adds, “We believe that, in the long term, people will give more financial support to the organization when they give from the heart than through paying more for the price of a concert ticket.” Roberts continues, “I believe that the successful orchestra of the twenty-first century will be perceived not as a luxury item, but a basic commodity to be enjoyed by all.”

Season tickets for the 2011-2012 “Celebrate the American Spirit” season are on sale now.  The new season brochure can be downloaded from the Philharmonic’s website:  For more information contact the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra Box Office at (812) 425 – 5050.

About the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra

The mission of the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra is to engage the Tri-State community in the powerful experience of live symphonic music.  The Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra is the largest non-profit arts institution in the Tri-State area. The orchestra performs its Classics and Pops concerts in the beautiful Victory Theatre in downtown Evansville.  Throughout its 76 year history, the Philharmonic has been committed to providing high-quality music education, outreach and entertainment programs for the entire Tri-State.  It is dedicated to sharing the powerful experience of live symphonic music with everyone, from pre-schoolers to the elderly.