One day after the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra moved from the most widely beloved arts organization in town to its most criticized, officials on the inside couldn’t say what, if anything, they should have done differently to distribute tickets—all of them free—to LumenoCity 2014.
“If you got tickets, you were happy. If you didn’t, sure, I think you’d be disappointed. That was to be expected,” Chris Pinelo, the orchestra’s vice president of communications, said on Tuesday afternoon. “I was pretty sure a lot of people who were wanting to come wouldn’t be able to get tickets.”
One thing Pinelo didn’t expect: It would take all of 12 minutes Monday morning, beginning at 8 a.m., for people storming a special LumenoCity website to snap up every ticket available to the general public for the three concerts, Aug. 1-3 in Washington Park.
LumenoCity features the orchestra in performance against the backdrop of an elaborate, custom-designed light show on the entire facade of Music Hall. The inaugural concerts in 2013, conceived to celebrate the debut of CSO music director Louis Langree, drew 35,000 people over two nights. No tickets were necessary—people simply showed up to Washington Park.
Anticipating a crush of interest for LumenoCity 2014, orchestra officials expanded the event to three nights, bought server space from Amazon.com and enlisted Ticketmaster to distribute the tickets, limiting them to 12,500 each night.
Of those tickets, a quarter of them went in advance to subscribers and others who had purchased concert tickets the previous year. Ten percent went to Cincinnati and other Hamilton County libraries, along with charities and service organizations to redistribute to the needy and elderly clients they serve. The vast majority of the remaining 65 percent were available Monday morning to anyone lucky enough to click their way through to success.
Pinelo couldn’t specify the number of tickets committed for the event’s sponsors, but said it represents a small fraction of overall tickets. Sponsors are paying the entire freight of the $1.2 million budget for LumenoCity.
The orchestra’s goals behind the ticketing structure: Ensuring safety and sightlines while keeping access to a broad array of people.
Insiders can read more details about the aftermath of Monday's rush for LumenoCity tickets and if the CSO will stage it again in 2015.
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