Bal­let weighs im­por­tance of live mu­sic

Group sends sur­vey to help de­cide if orches­tra is worth the ex­tra cost

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Matthew J. Palm Or­lando Sen­tinel Arts Writer

The fu­ture of live or­ches­tral mu­sic at Or­lando Bal­let per­for­mances might very well de­pend on whether pa­trons are will­ing to pay for it.

A sur­vey from the bal­let has been ar­riv­ing in email in­boxes with only two ques­tions for re­cip­i­ents: “How much does live mu­sic af­fect your de­ci­sion to pur­chase tick­ets to Or­lando Bal­let?” and “Would you be will­ing to pay a small in­crease in ticket prices for a per­for­mance with live mu­sic?”

The email urges bal­let pa­trons to take “less than two min­utes” to com­plete the sur­vey so the or­ga­ni­za­tion can “meet your ex­pec­ta­tions in the up­com­ing sea­son.” De­tails of the bal­let’s 2019-2020 pro­duc­tions are ex­pected to be an­nounced dur­ing the com­pany’s next pro­gram, “Bail­amos,” which opens Feb. 15.

The sur­vey is be­ing sent to bal­let ticket buy­ers, donors and stu­dents of Or­lando Bal­let School, said ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Shane Jewell.

“We have been woe­fully be­hind in un­der­stand­ing the needs and wants of our pa­trons and cap­tur­ing that data,” Jewell said. “We’re ask­ing ques­tions we’ve never asked be­fore.”

Hir­ing an orches­tra to play dur­ing bal­let per­for­mances is a big ex­pense for the com­pany, which has strug­gled fi­nan­cially. Since his ar­rival in 2018, Jewell has stressed his main fo­cus would be on keep­ing the bal­let fi­nan­cially sta­ble.

“My No. 1 goal is pro­tect­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of the com­pany,” he re­it­er­ated in a tele­phone in­ter­view Fri­day evening.

Hir­ing a pro­fes­sional orches­tra, such as the Or­lando Phil­har­monic, to play for all per­for­mances of “The Nutcracker” could

cost up to a quar­ter mil­lion dol­lars, Jewell said. “What we don’t know is, does live mu­sic trans­late to in­creased ticket sales. Is that go­ing to gen­er­ate an ad­di­tional quar­ter of a mil­lion?”

Although the sur­vey doesn’t spec­ify what the “small in­crease in ticket prices” would be, Jewell sug­gested the in­crease could be, on av­er­age, about $10 per ticket.

He said Or­lando Bal­let was com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing the qual­ity of the shows, not­ing next year will bring “the big­gest pro­duc­tion bud­get we’ve ever had.”

“We want to do what­ever we can af­ford,” Jewell said. “I want to make sure we are de­liv­er­ing what the com­mu­nity wants.” [email protected]­lan­dosen­tinel.com; @mat­t_on_arts

RI­CARDO RAMIREZ BUXEDA/OR­LANDO SEN­TINEL FILE

In 2015, the Or­lando Phil­har­monic Orches­tra ac­com­pa­nied Or­lando Bal­let’s pro­duc­tion of “Giselle.”

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