The so-called sustainability of popular entertainment

Greg Sandow opened up his recent post, “A challenge for orchestras,” with this    pithy paragraph:

Not so long ago, I happened to have dinner with a businessman — CEO of his not so small company — who’d been asked to join the board of his local orchestra. His take on the orchestra business, speaking as a businessman: All American orchestras seem to do more or less the same thing, and all of them are in trouble. Therefore the business model doesn’t work.

The last couple of statements “All American orchestras seem to do more or less the same thing, and all of them are in trouble. Therefore the business model doesn’t work” got a response from me since my previous post was speaking specifically about those orchestras and large scale arts organizations that are currently in the black.

Rather than rehash in my post (and my comment at Greg’s blog) let’s take a brief look at the popular entertainment industry since it is often the field held up to contrast against the unsustainable arts organizations.

I know I’ve mentioned in several places the NEA data that shows a decline in all ‘benchmark events’ which include the typical arts fare such as Orchestra/Opera/Ballet Concerts and Museum exhibits, but also includes Stadium rock and Sports. Continue reading “The so-called sustainability of popular entertainment”