OSO patrons need to ante up dough

Kelowna tax payers help keep the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra afloat, but one local politician wants to know why more responsibility isn’t placed on patrons of the arts.

“I’m surprised you can’t generate higher (ticket) revenue,” said Coun. Andre Blanleil upon learning subscription tickets go for $47 general admission, $41 for seniors and $21 for youth.

“Tiesto (a DJ) is going to play at Prospera Place, and they’re asking $100 a ticket and selling 1,500.”

Blanleil went on to point out that the Kelowna taxpayer “has paid for many years” and while the $50,000 the city kicks in is OK with him, he can’t understand why “the people who enjoy that music” aren’t able to dig deeper when times are tough.

“It’s a tough, fine line,” said music director Rosemary Thomson.

“We have a lot of conversation  around our ticket prices.”

Across North America, ticket prices have been kept pretty tight, she continued, because if they rise too much they could lose an audience.

“We don’t want to push the barrier of affordability too much,” said Scott Wilson, the orchestra’s general manager.

“A lot of our audience members are seniors on a fixed income.”

Also, the portion that the Kelowna kicks in is proportionally less than other like-sized communities, such as Kamloops. If Kelowna were to match their donations, the funding would rise to around $90,000.

That, however, wasn’t being requested as the orchestra has found innovative ways to offset the significant losses they’ve endured in recent years.

Wilson explained to councillors that they lost  $147,000 in provincial gaming and arts council funds last year.

“On a budget of $800,000, this would seem like a crippling loss to endure,” he said.

With the help of an extraordinary donation, and other measures, the accumulated deficit amounted to around $3,000.

This year they’re faced with a further $60,000 loss, although  strong ticket sales and significant increases in  local donations could turn things around.

The OSO is also trying to increase its pull, by reaching a younger demographic through youth oriented programming.

For further information on operations and events go to The symphony will hold its AGM on Thursday.


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