While the COVID-19 pandemic has been undeniably “catastrophic” for arts organizations, Shenandoah Conservatory saw hopeful signs of recovery this past fall with multiple sold-out concerts, increased ticket sales and increased point-of-sale donations through the box office.
Audiences were eager and excited to return to live indoor events, resulting in sold-out or near sold-out (95%+ venue capacity) performances of “Cartography,” “Dracula,” “Bright Star,” “Hair,” Opera Up Close, EDGE Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and the Choral & Brass Ensembles holiday concert. Without raising ticket prices, the conservatory’s fall academic season also saw a 16% increase in ticket revenues from the (pre-pandemic) Fall 2019 ticket revenues.
“We had an incredibly strong semester, despite all of the challenges,” reported Executive Director of Performances and Engagement Courtney Reilly ’18, M.S. “I am so grateful to our staff who worked tirelessly to ensure artists and audiences were able to safely and comfortably return to live performances. Audiences played their part as well — dutifully masking up while inside venues and offering kind words of encouragement and appreciation for the artists and staff.”
Pulling off such a safe and successful season of live performances, given the many obstacles and an ever-evolving landscape, is no easy task. In order to allow artists to perform unmasked, the conservatory had to confirm artists’ vaccination status and coordinate surveillance testing in advance of all performances. During the fall alone, nearly 2,800 performer surveillance tests were conducted by the Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy to support a safe and successful return to live performances. Additionally, more than 1,000 masks were distributed to ensure audience members were adequately covered, and safety measures, such as contactless ticketing and digital programs, were deployed.
In addition to sales and attendance, donations at the box office also increased during the fall semester. When compared to (pre-pandemic) Fall 2019, this past fall saw a 75% increase in donations being made directly through the box office. While this increase is likely a result of many factors, it is a positive sign for the conservatory’s viability moving into the new year. It is also a testament to the growing culture of philanthropy and generosity of the conservatory’s patrons and donors.
“This kind of resilience, innovation and cooperation does not happen everywhere,” reflected Reilly. “I speak with arts leaders all over the country and I am well aware of the many challenges that organizations are facing.”
“I could not be prouder of what our community accomplished last fall, even with our ever-evolving circumstances,” added Shenandoah Conservatory Dean and Professor of Music Michael Stepniak, Ed.D. “I join Courtney and our faculty performance directors in remaining hopeful and optimistic about the spring season to come!”
Tickets and information for Shenandoah Conversatory’s Spring 2022 season are available at conservatoryperforms.org.