This past week I struck up a conversation with a British fellow while waiting for the bus to come. We started talking about music in England and he brought up the fact that the Royal Opera House is heavily subsidized, however not enough for anyone that falls below upper-middle class. He followed with "It's funny how the poor pay for the rich to go to the opera". Of course, the fact is that it comes out of every tax-paying citizen's pocket, not just the poor. His comment made me think of how hard it is for classical music to reach out to a wider audience...even if it tries.
Classical music is expensive, and I can't see that changing anytime soon. However fresh we make it, whichever angle we choose to promote it (younger image being the latest), we are never going to change the fact that it takes years and years to learn how to perform it and that those years spent deserve a reasonable financial return.
We are not willing to lower the quality of our music, meaning the ticket price will stay in the same general area. Are we merely relying on the few that can afford to go to keep their interest in classical music? Is this our only hope for survival?
What do we care about more, making the best music or sharing our love of classical music?
I don't think we can choose, and so our concerts need to be subsized. Let's start making some calls to the ones that can't make classical music, but have a deep love for it...and deep pockets.