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Financial: Should we charge for Programs?


Hi everybody,

Thank you all for your responses to my questions about printed programs for concerts
- whether to charge for them, and whether invited guests should be asked to pay for
them. I was impressed by the unanimity of your collective astonishment that ANYBODY
would be asked to pay for a printed program at ANY musical event. Clearly in the US
this is a most uncommon practice. In Australia, however, it is usual for
concert-goers to be asked to pay for their programs. E.g., when I go to see an opera
at the Sydney Opera House, I have already paid about $AUS90 to $120 for my ticket, I
then pay $25-30 to park in the Opera House carpark, and when I go into the theatre I
am offered a free sheet of paper that gives a very brief synopsis and a list of the
prinicipal singers. But if I want the full printed program, containing bios of the
artists, full synopsis, complete cast and orchestra list, background info on the
opera, AND paid advertisments, I will be asked to pay about $12 to $15. Needless to
say, I don't go to the opera very often! At professional concerts, there is usually
no free sheet of paper, so if one wants a program at all, one has to pay for it. Many
amateur organisations also charge for their printed programs, although at school
concerts they often give you a program as part of the ticket price.

I am not posting a compilation of responses to the whole list, as it would be too
long, however if anyone would like me to email it to them I would be happy to do so.

Thank you all again for your supportive responses. With your help and also that of a
few Australian colleagues, I was able to convince my committee that, while they may
or may not choose to charge our paying audience for the programs, it is not
acceptable to do so with our invited guests (the ones to whom we have offered free
tickets as a sign of our appreciation of their support, patronage, etc).

Thanks to Cynthia Powell, Barbara Pinto-Choate, Ginny, Bill Weinert, Kathy Bowers,
Margaret Channon, John Wexler, Joan Howell, Steven Shaffner, John Helgen, Mary Legge,
Hugh McDevitt, Ben Locke, Suzanne, Judith Gary, Sherwin Armbuter, Michael Wade,
Charles Sullivan, Chris, Rowland Blackley, Richard Clark, Jody Sinkway, Rick Bjella,
and Lora Crighton.

Cheers,
Margot McLaughlin
Director, Macquarie University Singers
NSW Australia
conductor(a)mus.org.au