London Arts Organization Offers Classical Music…And Beer?

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the most hard to answer questions that many arts administrators ask themselves today is "How do I attract more young people to my concerts?". Well, a study conducted in London has provided some insight as to why young people aren’t attending live classical performances as frequently. This study surveyed people aged 24 to 36 as they attended concerts by the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Chamber Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The results of the surveys showed that young people feel alienated by traditional concerts, with their stuffy and formal atmosphere and traditional concert etiquette.

One of the organizations that participated in the study, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, is turning the formal classical concert idea on its head – offering performances called "Night Shift" that are billed as "rules-free" concerts and are marketed towards young people and students. Tickets for the "Night Shift" concerts cover the price of a beer, and concert-goers are encouraged to applaud whenever they feel moved to do so instead of waiting until the end of a piece. The conductor of the concert always opens the event with an introduction that puts the music in context for the audience, helping them to connect and relate the the music more. Organizers have found that the audience for these concerts are 4/5 under 35 and 1/3 students.

Personally, I think the idea for the "Night Shift" concerts is genius and I am surprised it has not been replicated in more places. The article about this study brought up a very good point – if symphonies continue to offer only one type of product, they will continue to attract only one type of audience. Our marketing classes taught us all about concepts like product mix and the Four P’s – product, price, place, and promotion. Organizations need to vary the types of concerts that they offer in order to attract different-minded audiences. The concert offerings should be a completely different product, should be priced more reasonably for younger people, could be offered in different venues (places) like smaller theaters or even bars, and should be marketed and promoted specifically to and for the younger audience.

The Cincinnati Ballet has had immense success with a similar program called "Ballet and Beer". This is a FREE event that allows attendees to enjoy LaRosa’s pizza and beer from Arnold’s while watching rehearsals of upcoming ballet performances. It’s an intimate and unintimidating environment to watch something that is often viewed as the most "uppity" art form – ballet. The program is so popular that reservations are fairly hard to get. I’d love to see other Cincinnati arts organizations follow the Ballet’s lead!!

Ballet and Beer!

"Open up classical music with a beer and a chat"

–Aaren

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