On Sunday (7/5), Associated Press reporter Jim Fitzgerald writes, “Orchestras, theaters, museums and other arts organizations in the nation’s suburbs face the challenge to attract customers—and donors—from the same population going to the Chicago Symphony, the Smithsonian or Broadway plays. With the recession cutting into corporate and government funding and making Americans cautious about their spending, the groups are working harder to promote their small-town advantages—especially an easier commute and cheaper ticket prices. … ‘The appeal of the Westchester Philharmonic—and this is probably true of suburban orchestras throughout the country—includes the ease with which you can get to us, afford the tickets, park, get in and out,’ [Executive Director Joshua] Worby said. ‘But it’s a slippery slope because you can’t fool audiences if your product is substandard. Manhattan is just 20 miles down the road.’ … Outside San Francisco, the Berkeley Symphony also stresses convenience. ‘We do play that up, that you don’t have to drive across the Bay Bridge and pay your $4 toll or whatever or take a BART train,’ says spokesman Kevin Shuck. ‘But part of our message to the Berkeley audience is that you don’t have to go to the San Francisco Symphony to get high quality.’ ”

Photo: Berkeley Symphony Music Director Designate Joanna Carneiro
Credit: David Weiss

Posted July 6, 2009