The European Orchestra Laboratory (EO-LAB)

It is the strong belief of 3 European symphony orchestras, that the societal relevance and the contribution to quality of life of (symphonic) classical music can be brought back and enlarged by (re)involvement and (re)engagement of lost and new audiences. To reach this goal, rethinking and redesigning (part of) an orchestra’s activities is needed. In order to do so, 3 European orchestras will cooperate in a ‘European Orchestra Laboratory’.

New EU Orchestra Project

New EU Orchestra Project

Within a two year period 2014-2016, each orchestra will create experimental events to attract specified non-traditional audiences by a specific approach. Knowledge, experiences and results will be shared and exchanged. In this way, the EO-Lab significantly accelerates the learning and innovative capacity of each participating orchestra and the European symphonic sector as a whole. Partners in the EO-LAB are: The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (based in Enschede), Odense Symfoniorkester and Tonkünstler Orchester Niederösterreich. Associate partner: BBC Philharmonic. This project is supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
More info: (website under construction).

“Bergische Symphoniker” make a new funding deal

The German orchestra „Bergische Symphoniker“ based in the cities of Remscheid and Solingen had been in dire straits in 2013. Even a bankruptcy was an option.


Today sky seems bright: Both cities, two local public banks and two friends-of-the-orchestra clubs have established a new orchestra foundation, as local media report. This foundation shall support the orchestra activities additional to the public funding from the two cities and the federal sate of North Rhine-Westphalia.

This is another good business model for a symphony orchestra (in an almost public funding environment): 1. Public funding, 2. Earned income (ticket sales etc.) 3. Foundation support.

How to engage people for classical music?

Most of the British orchestras have survived recents cuts. Some have shrinked the staff to fit. Work load is getting harder for those who are still on the job. Ulster Orchestra is in dire straits in these days. And there will be even more challenges in the future.

The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) tries to tackle this situation by launching a campaign with a fresh promotion video: Making everyday life special.

Problem of this video: Perhaps it is a German, Chinese or US orchestra playing Strauss “Zarathustra” on the recording. There is no real link to the UK or the UK orchestras in this video. It could be everywhere.

Finally, if you want to engage people for classical music via YouTube:  1. there should be more emotion, 2. a better story  and 3. a clear link to the UK orchestras for spreading the word getting the message going viral.

10 Golden Rules of Communication (and Change) for Arts Organizations

  1. Avoid complaining about poor funding or any other internal problems in the public. Involve your whole organization. If internal communication is poor, why do you believe that external communication might be brilliant? (Try to fight funding problems and cuts in advance and internally as far as possible.)
  2. Stop staff members (artistic and non artistic) and stop board members telling bad messages in the pub. (Imagine what happens at stock exchange when only rumors arise…)
  3. Don’t tell people outside what doesn’t work, they do have their own problems (but tell your staff and board the truth very clearly). Tell people outside only what does work. Encourage your staff and board to do so, too.
  4. Press and media always have told you: “Only bad news are good news.” This is rubbish. Your performance is sold out? Your audience is going bananas? Your revenue has sky rocketed? Tell enthusiastic stories about these things.
  5. Try to establish a dialogue with press, media and your peers. Dialogue means trust building and long term relationships.
  6. Don’t discuss the past, you should learn from it, but you can’t change it. Look into the future.
  7. Think positive. Act positive. Send positive messages. Encourage your staff and board to do so, too.
  8. You produce artistic content at the highest possible quality standard. This is one of the core issues of your organization. Share your excitement about this with press, media and your peers. Encourage your staff and board to do so, too.
  9. Change the public mind setting towards your organization! What do people really know and think about you? How can you change this, if necessary?
  10. Survey the changing picture of your organization in public opinion on a regular basis and adjust your communication policy from time to time.


Wallace Foundation: Road to Audiences

Nine Effectice Practices For Audience Development

Outreach, education and audience development have become the most important issues in arts business. These factors are crucial elements for the marketing, communication and development departments, too.

The really great info chart from the Wallace Foundation cuts a long story short and puts the right questions and tasks into the focus.

Wallace Foundation: Road to Audiences

Wallace Foundation: Road to Audiences

Musical short breaks: Between pleasure and profit

There is a particular segment of the tourism business which is growing: musical holidays and short breaks, organized around a particular event, usually combined with other leisure activities.

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

This sector is fragmented, especially in Germany and Central Europe. Small, family-run businesses are as present as large travel organizations, and increasingly media companies too, seeking to capitalize on their audiences’ affinity to classical music. For musical breaks do attract a specific clientele, often retired, well-educated and well-off. Its expectations are high, as are administrative efforts: packages should feel individual enough, non-mainstream events are increasingly sought after, and planning can be tricky as concert halls and opera houses have a different planning horizon from travel organizations.  – The Bayreuth Festival (pictured) is an example for successful international music tourism.

Opera houses and concert halls, on the other hand, see music holidays very much from a distribution and marketing perspective: organized tours can bring whole coach loads of visitors, travel organizations purchase substantial ticket quotas and a listing by select organizers adds to the status and attraction of a destination. For the customers, it is a number of factors that make for a successful musical break, though given the typically upmarket target group it all comes down to attention: to details (like backstage visits), to carefully planned day-time activities (including free leisure time), to friendly service, exclusive offers and high-standard accommodation: the customer is king and wants to feel it.

Musically qualified tour guides are employed by many of the travel organizers. Their expertise is often seen as an integral part of the specific attraction and value of musical holidays. “Celebrity” guides can be a particular selling point, though their input needs to be clearly evaluated – sometimes a one-off backstage meeting may be appropriate, at other times they may accompany the group throughout the trip.

An unique case is the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, which runs its own “tourism department”, organizing and selling its own holiday packages. While the administrative effort is high, the strategy does allow for tailor-made offers and direct contact with a demanding clientele that appreciates a personalized service.

Detroit Symphony Annual Giving Surpasses Goal At 17,4 Mio USD!

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is back on the read of success – economically as well as artistically. DSO has surpassed its goal of $17 million for annual operational support with $17.4 million in individual, corporate and foundation gifts following the official close of the 2014 fiscal year on August 31, 2014. Individual giving, which saw an increase in every constituency, is owing to the generosity of 10,350 donors who represent the fourth consecutive year of donor base growth.

Home of DSO downtown Detroit

Home of DSO downtown Detroit

“Year after year we are humbled by the outpouring of support from this community,” said DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons. “The health of the DSO as an institution hinges on the generosity of others and thanks to the people of metro Detroit we are proudly on our way to a second consecutive balanced budget year.”

Individual giving increased from every constituency during fourth consecutive year of donor base growth

While overall individual giving grew by 8 percent, board giving grew by 10 percent for a total of $2.3 million. In its inaugural year, the Gabrilowitsch Society ($10,000+ giving club) secured more than 100 members giving a total of $3.3 million. The Governing Members, the DSO’s voting body, grew for the fourth consecutive year reaching 400 members. The Volunteer Council generated $200,000 in support through events and activities. With individual gifts ranging from $1 to $1 million, the median gift was $100.

DSO staff contributed to the Annual Fund with 100 percent participation in response to an anonymous $250,000 challenge grant. Likewise, DSO musicians contributed with an unprecedented leadership gift to the Heroes Gala honoring Dan Gilbert and Matt Cullen. Special events like the one-night-only performance with John Williams and Steven Spielberg, Heroes Gala and Classical Roots generated $1.2 million, a 35 percent increase over special events revenue from 2013.

The DSO is a community-supported orchestra, and strives to also be community supporting. In reciprocation for the support that makes programming possible at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, around metro Detroit and across the world through global webcasts, in FY 2014 DSO staff and musicians donated approximately 5,000 hours of service to the community through a company-wide Day of Service, in-kind event services and engagements at hospitals, schools, libraries and the like.