Posted at 3 p.m. April 24, 2012

Editor's note: This story was edited on Oct. 2, 2013, to remove ticket prices that were incorrect because of a reporting error.

Orchestra impact on economic growth difficult
to determine

With the presence of a weak economy, sometimes it is hard to determine if entertainment in a society is necessarily needed for a community.

In Cheyenne, one of the entertainment options is the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, which can be seen as an affordable form of cultural entertainment.

For the first time in four years though, the season subscriptions and ticket prices have been increased for the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. Kim E. Lovett, executive director of the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, explained although the organization tries to keep ticket prices low and affordable, a 2–2.5 percent increase in expenses has made it necessary to increase prices.

Lovett also said the performers for the orchestra are paid on a contract based on what the performer does in the orchestra and where he/she sits. Yet Lovett added about one-third of the performers' salary is covered by ticket prices.

Lovett then explained the number of people attending the concerts varies from concert to concert. "We can seat up to 1,495 people," Lovett explained of the Cheyenne Civic Center venue. About 1,100-1,200 people subscribe to a season pass to the symphony, and then single tickets are sold beyond the subscriptions.

"We've had sold out shows before," she said. "It just depends on individual tastes as to whether that person wants to attend or not." Lovett added although she doesn't know the exact reasons people choose to come, she said the economy, personal taste and conflict with other events are contributing factors. Also, the number of subscriptions depends on monetary ability. Lovett said that sometimes continuing subscribers cannot afford a season subscription for whatever the reason.

Lovett then said usually the expenses for the orchestra are equal to the revenue. Because the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra is a nonprofit organization, the revenue comes from sponsors (usually a few corporations support the orchestra) and ticket sales.

But because that is the way the orchestra makes revenue, according to Richard O'Gara, who conducted a study on the economic impact of nonprofit cultural institutions (which includes the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra) in 1999, the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra really doesn't really economically help Cheyenne because "the symphony uses dollars that already exist in the local economy and doesn't really generate new dollars."

Fine arts boost community, economy

But Lovett explained in a roundabout way, the orchestra does help the community. "Corporations like to base their businesses in a community where the arts are present because things like an orchestra benefit the quality of life in the community, and corporations like to see that for their employees."

O'Gara explained the organizations with the most impact in a community are based on the number of full-time jobs they create. O'Gara doesn't know for sure that many full-time jobs are created through the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra currently, but his guess is not many. He also explained part-time jobs carry less of an economic impact on the community. O'Gara, a retired Laramie County Community College economics instructor, said because most jobs in the symphony are part time-jobs, his "guess is that half of another job is created from one job in the symphony."

O'Gara also explained economic impact depends on whether the symphony hires people who live in Cheyenne as opposed to a musician from outside the city or state because that affects spending in Cheyenne or elsewhere, which doesn't benefit the local community. "Our biggest economic impact comes from money outside of the community," he said.

"On the other hand, though," O'Gara added, "you can't put dollar figures on the cultural satisfaction of entertainment. Entertainment might not help economically, but it helps with the way of life. You can't exactly measure that, but it is present."

The Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra will present Baroque in the Barn at the Wyoming Hereford Ranch Sale Barn on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. The night will feature a chuckwagon-style beef dinner and some of the finest Baroque music performed by a chamber orchestra of players from the symphony.

Single tickets for the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra may be purchased by ordering the tickets through http//cheyennesymphony.org/ or calling the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra office at 307-778-8561.

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