PHILADELPHIA. New Philadelphia Orchestra CEO Allison Vulgamore has many issues to deal with, including a $3 million deficit. Her big, long-term goal, however, is solving a popularity problem.
Vulgamore said she has already begun programs to reach a broader audience — and excite those who already attend. One new program this season called “Beyond the Score” walked audiences through the meanings behind a symphony before playing it. Then there are even more out-of-the-box ideas.
“I’m having discussions now with the maestro asking if we can, I don’t know, put some seats on stage … asking the chorus to sit tightly, so we can put people with them,” Vulgamore said.
For a cultural leader like Gary Steuer, who heads Mayor Michael Nutter’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, more concerts in neighborhoods that aren’t normally exposed to the orchestra is essential to any comeback it will make.
“They have to find a way to define themselves as not just being high culture and identify themselves to Philadelphia,” Steuer said. “We would like to see them many more of those. I remember last year when there were 1,500 to 2,000 people at Deliverance Church in North Philadelphia. For people who have never been to the Kimmel and believe classical music is not relevant to their lives you have to reach out to them.”