Five Initial Questions – Organization Case Study

Five Initial Questions for Organization Case Study – MKTG/MEDIA/COMM I

Krissy Sonniksen – October 16, 2014

  • What is your organization or company. Give background history including who, when, and why it was founded.

The company I have chosen is the Oregon Symphony. Founded in 1896, this is the 6th oldest organized symphony in the continental United States and the oldest in the Western U.S. The Oregon Symphony is centered in the intricate and elegant Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, in the center of the cultural district in downtown Portland. Home to present music director Carlos Kalmar, the symphony received high praise in 2011 after releasing Music for a Time of War which was performed at the Spring into Music festival at Carnegie Hall. By December of 2012, the album received two Grammy nominations both for Best Engineered Album and for Best Orchestral Performance.

Until August of 1967, the Oregon Symphony was simply called: The Portland Symphony. The name change was a reflection of the increased number of concerts played outside of the city center and has since grown to incorporate not only all of Oregon but SW Washington as well. As present conductor and music director, Kalmar is well respected, and well known, in the symphonic community world wide, but some of his predecessors paved the way for his success. For example, James DePreist, one of the first professional African American conductors, helped bring the symphony from a part-time into a full-time orchestra and his arrangement for The Cosby Show in 1988 was chosen as the theme music for that ground breaking television show for the entirety of the 5th season. Although the symphony has continued it’s outstanding run with regular season shows, as well as special guests and musicians, it continues to struggle with maintaining a constant audience stream and ways to connect with a newer, younger generation.

  • What do they do or make – describe the products and services and what makes them unique.

The Oregon Symphony creates and presents a wide array of concerts (from September through May, yearly) throughout Oregon and SW Washington. They also have a growing number of educational and community outreach programs both inside and outside of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Those that take place in the community include, but are not limited to: Symphony Story Time and Classroom Visits by volunteer docents for the annual Young People’s Concert for students in grades 3-8. Within the doors of the “Schnitz”, the Oregon Symphony presents such grand programs as: Concert Conversations, Prelude Performances and Closed Rehearsal sessions for middle and high school aged students.

  • Describe the culture of the organization or company. What is the work environment like – the atmosphere? What is the building like – exterior/interior, architecture, fittings and furniture? How do the employees work together? What are the jobs and roles of individuals? How are they treated by management?

The culture of the Oregon Symphony is engaging and collaborative. The organization operating expense budget is approximately $15 million a year with just over half spent on artistic fees, salaries and benefits. The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is the most revered performance halls in the Portland city center with a warm welcome and high respect. Original, yet renovated, chandeliers fill the lobby and mezzanine with color and light while the wool carpeting, designed in Portland, leads you through the Rococo style interior. The exterior is full brick with the iconic Portland sign leading everyone to the illuminated main entrance.

The Symphony is managed by a staff of 35 who are responsible for all elements of production, marketing, accounting and customer service, to name just a few. It is governed by a volunteer board of director with the trustees of the Oregon Symphony Foundation. As well as individuals, businesses and foundations, the Oregon Symphony also receives funding from the Regional Arts and Cultural Council (RACC), the State of Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

  • Who is the targeted audience? What are their demographics?

The major demographics for the Oregon Symphony are middle aged, higher income, educated individuals, although the tides are continually changing and the Symphony is seeing a higher rate of  the 18-35 year age range with the addition of more popular guest performances and re-occurring sold out shows, such as Gospel Christmas and the Pops Series concerts. The annual attendance is 225,000 and with more than 80 concerts a year, that number, with continued appropriate marketing, will only grow.

  • What is the organization or company mission statement?

Inspire a love and understanding of music in our lives by bringing great music to all. Its primary goal, in the words of Music Director Carlos Kalmar, is to “touch the heart and soul of every Oregonian.”

All information sourced from:

Raising the Roof

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