A recent review of the BSO featuring Charles Dutoit and Julia Fischer [here] engendered a number of pointed reader comments about empty seats and BSO policies. Suspecting that the comments might be not fully informed, BMInt staff directed them to the attention of BSO management and received policy explanations from Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Kim Noltemy.
“We do our best to make sure every young person who wants to attend a BSO concert can do so through one of the orchestra’s generous discounted-ticket programs, put in place for students from high school age through young professionals up to age 40, and our records indicate that these programs are being used in a very healthy and robust way. During the current 2014-15 season, the BSO has sold between 200 and 500 discounted tickets for every concert except seven.
“More than 15,000 college tickets are available each season; more than 10,000 tickets are available for the $20 ticket program for patrons under 40. Just under a quarter of the BSO’s audience is under 40 years old, showing the success of these programs and the orchestra’s commitment to making attendance affordable for younger patrons. Due to the administrative work associated with the discount programs and the heavy volume of box office traffic before most concerts, we do have a specific policy in place for procuring the tickets; the instructions are clearly outlined on our website and by our box office staff who talk to patrons by phone.
“In addition, the BSO offers rush tickets, of which there are 100 available at $9 each. The BSO can sell only up to 100 of these per concert (a matter of audits and donor reporting), so if we run out, more seats cannot be turned into rush tickets.
“Regarding attendance these past several weeks, during the winter, and especially this winter, the subscriber no-show rate can be as high as 25%, and subscribers do not always let the BSO know that they will not be using their seats. Unfortunately, in these cases empty seats are not resalable.”