Many factors come into play when it comes to attracting new, first-time patrons to a symphony orchestra, but there are a few that consistently bubble to the surface.
Familiarity with the music. Ever go to a rock concert and the band only played the new stuff? That’s kind of the experience a first-time orchestra goer might have if the music selection is a bit on the obscure side. Music selection is often where the interests of the orchestra conflict with the interests of younger, unseasoned patrons. Blending more popular pieces with those that dig a little deeper may be a good compromise for orchestras struggling to attract a younger crowd.
Affordability. Symphony orchestras often have the reputation of only marketing to more mature patrons of means. To disillusion the public of this notion, orchestras (and their marketing) need to do a better job of reaching more diverse audiences and offering reasonably priced tickets whenever possible. Consider working with your orchestra to offer reduced rates for rehearsal performances when lowering ticket prices isn’t an option.
Convenient location. Lots of attractions are located in busy cities that make getting there just difficult enough that it can be a turn off for someone who’s considering trying something for the first time. This frustration can easily be eliminated with local maps, clear instructions for where to park, and information about the easiest way to get there.
Other things to do nearby. Partnering with local restaurants, shopping, and other interesting activities in your community can help your potential patrons get a lot more out of their visit and may even encourage them to try the orchestra if it’s combined with another activity. Going the extra step to create packages that include pre-show dining and post-show accommodations for out-of-towners, for example, further simplifies planning and adds appeal.