Erie Philharmonic was in organizational distress, awash with capacity and board governance issues, financial instability, poor marketing, and sharply declining audiences. We conducted personal interviews and surveys to dig deeply into how patrons felt about the Philharmonic, why they were coming less often, and what might encourage their return.
One challenge was presenting the organization with a rash of bad news and motivating them to take real action. Thankfully, our work brought on a major awakening as the Philharmonic realized (in their words) that they hadn’t factored the community into their artistic vision and weren’t being responsive enough to audience needs. Erie Philharmonic then took on a complete overhaul as they made changes in leadership and staffing, rewrote their bylaws, redesigned the governance structure, instituted a regional concert program, hired outside expertise for website redesign/communications, aggressively pushed for improvements to their city-owned venue, and spear-headed a shared services program with other local arts groups.
Within two seasons the audience was reengaged, a 10-year sales decline had been reversed, hall improvements were well underway, and Erie Philharmonic had earned three significant awards—an ADDY for their season brochure, the Mr. Roger’s Best Neighbor Award for their regional concert series, and an Excellence in Non-Profit Governance Award. The orchestra continues to flourish many years later.