Saturday, July 29
LENOX — A new sales tactic is sweeping through the world of classical concert venues, and Tanglewood is singing its praises.

BSO officials announced yesterday that, for 12 days, some tickets for most of the concerts in the Shed during the month of August will be discounted to generate more sales. Less-than-optimal weather during the past two summers has cut into sales and may have had a more worrisome result as well, said Kim Noltemy, the BSO's director of sales and marketing.

"In a way, I think that (the weather) gets people out of the habit of thinking of Tanglewood in their planning, and, hopefully, this might get them thinking about it again," she said. "And there is competition in the arts world, whether it's for museums or concerts, and we wanted to do something to get people to focus on us more."

The price discount is similar to a sales tactic employed by the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony last year, which, Noltemy noted, worked.

"We'll do discounts on an ad hoc basis for a concert that isn't selling well, but this is probably the first time we've done it for (this length of time)," she said.

Starting tomorrow and ending Thursday, Aug. 10, the discount will be offered on certain tickets to concerts in the Shed:

  • Those priced at $72 and $83 (some seats in sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) will cost $50.

  • Those normally costing $48 and $59 (many seats in sections 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14) will be $40.

  • Those priced at $27 and $39 (for seats in parts of sections 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16) will be $20.

  • The handling fee of $5 for phone or online ticket orders has been eliminated for these concerts during the discount period.

    People who already have bought tickets for this time period will not receive the discount.

    The Aug. 5 and 12 concerts are sold out, although there are still lawn tickets available, and the Aug. 21 James Taylor concert has completely sold out.

    Noltemy said the discount probably will attract more last-minute buyers and local residents.

    Mark Volpe, BSO managing director, said the only ticket revenue for concerts at the Shed that is not dependent on the weather is generated by selling the more than 5,100 seats inside the Shed. Up to 13,000 lawn tickets can be sold, but that revenue depends on the weather.

    Lawn tickets go for $8.50 for Friday evening shows and $17 to $20 for all other shows.

    "In the last two years, and a little this year, too, we've had the misfortune of having rainy nights, so we're trying to be proactive and get ahead of the curve," Volpe said. "And we've been getting a lot of terrific press in The (New York) Times, The (Boston) Globe, and in The Eagle, so we're trying to capitalize on that and create a buzz."

    Noltemy explained that ticket sales are about a half-percent below goal, "putting us pretty close to being on target, but I would absolutely love it if we could double our weekly ticket sales. That would put us in the neighborhood of $400,000 to $500,000 in sales per week. So this is in anticipation of a challenge, as opposed to being precipitated by a challenge."

    The Tanglewood season accounts for about 27 percent of annual BSO ticket sales, she said. This year, the season started June 23 and ends on Labor Day weekend. There are usually three shows every weekend and occasionally one weekday.

    Tanglewood is by far the biggest draw in Berkshire County, with an average seasonal attendance of about 350,000.