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Ticket sales, revenue up for Bach Festival

  • Jul 19, 2007
By Bob Keefer The Register-Guard Published: Thursday, July 19, 2007 Reversing a downward trend of the past several years, attendance and ticket revenue were up substantially at this year's Oregon Bach Festival. The festival, which concluded a 2 1/2 -week run in Eugene on Sunday, drew an estimated total audience, including those at free events, of 31,000, up 12 percent from last year's 27,618. The festival sold 16,859 tickets, up 10 percent from 15,308 last year, and total ticket revenue was $418,083, a 16 percent increase over last year's $360,519. Those figures are still lower than the highest levels of sales and attendance achieved by the festival in 2001 and 2002. "It's been a different world since 9/11," festival marketing director George Evano said. "Like most arts organizations, we've had to deal with declining ticket sales, but overall we're pleased with the progress we have made." Evano said this year's increases are most likely related to a number of factors: • The festival restructured its ticket prices this year, offering a range of low-cost seats while charging more for some premium tickets. • The festival offered a broad range of programming, from the big choral Masses that are its traditional centerpiece to a hip-hop "Bach Remix." • The festival's main concerts started at 7:30 p.m. rather than 8 p.m. this year after finding through a survey that its audience wanted to get home earlier. "We did everything we could to make it easier for audiences to attend, from earlier start times to creating a wide range of ticket prices," Evano said. The only sold-out concert in the 2,500-seat Silva Concert Hall at the Hult Center this year was the Five Browns, five brothers and sisters from Utah who played five pianos and who have been a top draw around the country. Nearly sold out was the violinist Midori. Other top-selling shows were the opening night Brahms German Requiem and the closing night Beethoven Missa Solemnis. Following the terrorist attacks of 2001, arts institutions around the country - including the Bach Festival - suffered big declines in attendance. The festival, founded in 1969, had its best-selling year in terms of number of tickets purchased in 2001, with about 21,000 tickets sold. Although the number of tickets sold declined in 2002, total revenue hit an all-time high that year because of an increase in ticket prices. In 2004, the festival looked as if it was about to reverse the decline when, just before the festival opened, its big star for that year, baritone Thomas Quasthoff, canceled his appearances due to illness.