Who said you can't afford culture?
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is raising the bar for lowering ticket prices through an innovative membership program.
For $5 a month, members can get a ticket to each of the SPCO's 100 concerts during the 2012-13 season, which it announced Tuesday, April 3.
SPCO members will be able to choose seats online for an unlimited number of performances or merely show up the night of a concert, provided it isn't sold out. They have access to 80 percent of SPCO tickets, with seats in the $40 price range at St. Paul's Ordway Center the only ones unavailable. If a member chooses to attend one performance of each program next season, it will cost less than $2 a concert.
"I believe it's probably the boldest model of its type, certainly in our industry and maybe in the performing arts at large," said Jessica Etten, the orchestra's senior director of marketing and communications.
So how can the SPCO afford this?
"Over 80 percent of our revenue is related to philanthropy," Etten said, "and less than 20 percent comes from ticket sales. We exist because people come to the concerts and fall in love with what we do and want to support the organization. So, we've always said that what we need to do is make it possible for people to come to concerts and come often and come over a long period of time, so the SPCO becomes a big part of their lives. Then other institutional funders are able to say: 'Wow, this is an organization that's really serving this community well through affordable pricing and lowering barriers to participation.'"
Members can start signing up now and will be able to begin selecting seats in August. Information about the SPCO's 2012-13 season can be found on the A&E Live page.
For more information, go to thespco.org.
Rob Hubbard can be reached at email@example.com.