The scene at the San Francisco Symphony’s pre-pandemic 2019 opening gala. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.

“As the COVID lockdown gradually lifted, arts organizations asked questions about how audience attendance and behavior might have changed as a result of the pandemic,” writes Jim Farber in Tuesday’s (5/2) San Francisco Classical Voice. “An ominous July 2022 report from Audience Outlook Monitor, issued by WolfBrown, a consulting firm that conducts market research for nonprofit cultural groups, [predicted] that a 25–30 percent reduction in attendance figures was likely to represent ‘the new normal,’ citing audience insecurity and the vast expansion in entertainment options available through streaming. Thankfully, that analysis has not proven to be entirely accurate. Audiences have returned. Ticket sales, particularly for top-level, star-powered operatic and symphonic performances, are robust. The major impact that companies are facing is a significant decline in the sale of subscription packages…. The necessity of appealing to the buying habits of [the young] tech-savvy, multitasking, social media-driven audience is making arts organizations across the country reexamine everything—from subscription strategies and programming decisions to the best ways to use analytic data-mining, while also addressing the critical issues of diversity, inclusion, and social consciousness.” The article includes quotes from leaders of San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and BroadStage in Santa Monica, CA.