Ballet weighs importance of live music
Group sends survey to help decide if orchestra is worth the extra cost
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
In 2015, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied Orlando Ballet’s production of “Giselle.”