‘A critical situation’: Regina Symphony Orchestra at financial risk due to dwindling audiences IG News

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Things are not looking good for the Regina Symphony Orchestra.

Audiences at the RSO’s concerts have been far smaller than they were pre-pandemic – so much so that the orchestra has had to cancel three of its April shows, including adding a choir.

“This is our plan to mitigate some of the financial risk that we are taking very seriously,” said Gordon Gerrard, the RSO’s director of music.

“But I would say that if people don’t start supporting us – both in terms of attending concerts and if we don’t find other means of support – then we are in a serious situation and we are definitely at great risk.” “

Gerard says that at the start of the season in September, the orchestra took a conservative approach regarding ticket sales.

Still, he said, “We’re nowhere near in terms of audiences. We’re seeing halls that are 20 percent full, which, you know, is heartbreaking for us.”

“We know there are a lot of people in our community who love RSO, but we are not seeing people give back in the way we had hoped.”

Gordon Gerard, music director of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, says ticket sales have been extremely low this season. (gordongerrard.com)

Before the pandemic began, Gerard says, the RSO could expect to fill 1,200 to 1,500 seats in the 1,900-seat Connexus Arts Center.

Gerrard said, “We’re now seeing at least 400 people, so definitely it’s a really different world now. That’s become very clear over the course of this season.”

Gerrard says he believes the pandemic has changed people’s habits, affecting many to stay at home and get their entertainment online or through apps.

“I think we’re in a position now where we need to change people’s habits back,” he said, “and to encourage people by reminding them of what we can offer them.”

This means RSO will work to grow its social media presence and find new ways to reach potential audience members.

However, Gerard said, low ticket sales aren’t the only problem in Regina.

“I know that most of my colleagues across the country are experiencing what we are experiencing in [there’s] There has been a huge drop in ticket sales to such an extent that organizations are at risk,” he said.

Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra sees boom in sales

It’s a different story in Saskatoon: The Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra is doing just fine, according to management.

SSO CEO and creative producer Mark Turner says ticket sales since September have exceeded his expectations.

“This year we’re really seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels, which has been really great for us. We’ve had TCU Place and other venues sell out … so we’ve been very lucky,” Turner said.

Mark Turner is the CEO and Creative Producer of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.
Mark Turner, CEO and creative producer of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, says ticket sales have exceeded expectations. (Julie Isaac Photography)

SSO is hosting a special Disney in Concert, featuring the musical frozen, March 18 at TCU Place. At first, Turner says, ticket sales for the event were slow, but now the production is on its way to sales.

“When we produced this season, we were rolling the dice — specifically, you know, we had two Disney shows. We had a big pop show. [Dancing Queen] And they come at huge price points, and so they were kind of a calculated risk,” Turner said.

SSO set that lineup with the assumption that it would break even financially. Instead, it turned a profit.

“We’re seeing a lot of new people in our audience,” Turner said. “When we live-streamed in the 2020/21 season, we were able to attract a different group of people – people who might have been symphony-curious but hadn’t come out.”

Over the weekend, Turner says, 25 percent of the SSO concert audience of 1,300 were people under the age of 25.

Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.
Unlike the Regina Symphony Orchestra, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra has not had to cancel any concerts this season. (Julie Isaac Photography)

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