US Orchestras loose subscribers and audiences

The League of American Orchestras has released Orchestra Facts: 2006-2014, the organization’s first comprehensive longitudinal study of American orchestra finances and operations.

Survey says: US orchestras loose subscribers and audienees

Survey says: US orchestras loose subscribers and audienees

Using an extensive variety of organizational and external data sources, the study depicts the enormous breadth and scope of the American orchestra field, along with the complexities and resiliencies inherent in the art form’s business model. With its focus on the nine-year period from 2006 to 2014, including topline trends, five-year trends, and one-year snapshots, Orchestra Facts examines the effects of the recent recession, as well as broader trends around audience attendance, orchestra finances, and accessibility.

Orchestra Facts: 2006-2014 reveals a remarkable breadth of activity and commitment of resources on the part of orchestras in service to their communities,” said League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen. “Our first-ever longitudinal study provides an authoritative fact base for analyzing orchestras’ finances and operations, as well as new metrics for understanding orchestras’ education and community engagement activity.” The report finds that the scope and scale of the orchestra field in the United States is vast: in 2014, 1,224 orchestras contributed $1.8 billion to the U.S. economy and attracted a total audience of nearly 25 million. Two out of every three orchestras operated with annual expenses budgets of under $300,000. Cost barriers traditionally associated with attending orchestra performances are coming down: the number of free concerts has increased, while the cost of purchasing paid-for tickets fell.

 

An 18% growth in the number of households subscribing shows that demand for subscriptions is still growing, even if spend per subscriber is down. Overall, audiences declined by 10.5% between 2010 and 2014, broadly in line with other performing arts sectors. However, audiences for classical series concerts declined by 5.5% (corresponding roughly to a 3% decline in the number of classical series performances offered). The report also finds that orchestras’ work continues outside the concert hall through a wide array of education and community engagement activities for diverse audiences.

Generally, the report confirms recession recovery for the field as a whole, but individual orchestras may have different experiences. The study also illustrates the complexity of the orchestra business model as orchestras balance multiple forms of earned, contributed, and investment revenue. Looking at Change in Unrestricted Net Assets (CUNA), defined as the difference between unrestricted income and total expenses, the proportion of orchestras reporting deficits dropped from 40% in 2010 to 18% in 2014.

 Report Highlights*:

See report’s Key Findings (pp 4-5) and Conclusions (p 20) sections for more details.

Download the Full Report Here

 

For the first time, this report publicly reveals a detailed picture of the scope and scale of the orchestra field in the United States:

  • In 2014, the orchestra field contributed $1.8 billion to the U.S. economy and attracted a total audience of nearly 25 million.
  • That same year, there were 1,224 U.S. orchestras, distributed widely across all 50 states, and two out of every three orchestras operated with annual expenses budgets of under $300,000.

Orchestras perform, but also teach, lead, facilitate, and train.

  • Their work drives a vast array of education and community engagement (EdCE) activities.
  • A segment of the report analyzes survey responses from 98 orchestras EdCE activities: these 98 orchestras alone reported 19,000 EdCE performances, musical activities, and events, with 2.1 million people participating in these EdCE events.
  • Two thirds participated without charge.
  • Thirty-eight percent of the EdCE participants were African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaskan Native. Sixty-two percent were white.

Cost barriers traditionally associated with attending orchestra performances are coming down:

  • Between 2010 and 2014, the number of free concerts increased, while the cost of purchasing paid-for tickets fell.

Orchestras find themselves at a moment of transition:

  • 2013 saw a significant shift in the traditional orchestra business model as – for the first time – income produced by single ticket and group sales was higher than that earned from subscription revenues.
  • The subscription model remains important: an 18% growth in the number of households subscribing shows that demand for subscriptions is still growing, even if spend per subscriber is down.
  • Overall, audiences declined by 10.5% between 2010 and 2014, broadly in line with other performing arts sectors.
  • However, audiences for classical series concerts declined by 5.5%, corresponding roughly to a 3% decline in the number of classical series performances offered.
  • The stability of contributed income through the recession years and the large number of small gifts made to orchestras (around 75% of the gifts made by non-trustee individuals were under $250) indicate a broad base of continuing community support for – and appreciation of – orchestras’ work.

The orchestra business model is complex but resilient:

  • Orchestras depend upon a complex portfolio of revenue sources that includes multiple forms of earned, contributed, and investment income.
  • Orchestras successfully maintained contributed income levels through the recession while containing growth in expenses.
  • Many orchestras rely on investment income, though this makes them more vulnerable during leaner times.
  • Between 2006 and 2014, total asset value increased by 4% while liabilities decreased by 7.5%, having peaked at the recession’s height. Consequently, net assets grew at a rate exceeding inflation by 6.6%.
  • In general terms, these measures indicate improved organizational stability over time, despite the impact of recession on the field.
  • Looking at Change in Unrestricted Net Assets (CUNA), defined as the difference between unrestricted income and total expenses, the proportion of orchestras reporting deficits dropped from 40% in 2010 to 18% in 2014.
  • It’s important to note that the report confirms recession recovery for the whole field; individual orchestras may have different experiences.

Orchestra Field-wide 2014 Snapshot: 1,224 orchestras in the NCAR and OSR data sets for financial year 2013-14

Orchestra Field 2006-14, 9-year Trends: The 547 orchestras with annual expenses of $50,000 or more that submitted data each of the five financial years from 2005-06 to 2013-14

The OSR data set was also exclusively analyzed in the following two ways: OSR2014 Snapshot: The 107 League member orchestras participating in the Orchestra Statistical Report for financial year 2013-14;  OSR 2010-14, 5-year Trends: The 65 League member orchestras participating in the Orchestra Statistical Report for each of the five financial years from 2009-10 to 2013-14

Figures in the report are adjusted for inflation.

Orchestras surveyed include both professional and semi-professional orchestras, but do not include school, college, or military orchestras.

Youth orchestras are partially represented in the data sets, and are identified by footnotes throughout the report.

Read the full press release here.

“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.

Logo_Bergische_Symphoniker

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.