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Victoria Symphony Splash


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#1 Holden West

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Posted 02 September 2006 - 06:27 AM

I admit to only attending one Victoria Symphony concert at Royal Theatre. Shame, because I really enjoyed it. Even if you think you don't like classical music, consider it as the ultimate in surround-sound home theatre.

And there is no-one at the Times-Colonist more dedicated to the concept of a vibrant Victoria than Adrian Chamberlain. Whether it's theatre, visual art, rock concerts or classical music, he's never afraid to give Victorians a kick in the ass telling them to get with it and stop acting like such a boring backwater.

Give up the cash for Splash

Thousands flock to summer concert, yet most people fork over less than a loonie to hear the Victoria Symphony


Adrian Chamberlain, Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, September 02, 2006

I'm trying to coax the manager of the Victoria Symphony into saying that Victorians are tightwads. But Marcus Handman is much too savvy to take the bait.

"I know you really want me to say that. But," he adds, "I am hesitant to characterize people as being cheap."

We're talking Symphony Splash.

The event, held last month, attracted 42,000 people. It's so popular, some even chain their lawnchairs to prime locations two days before the concert.

This year the Splash raised about $42,000 in donations. That averages out to a dollar a person.

That's right. A single, solitary loonie. I might be going out on a limb here, but forking over half a bus fare seems rather lame.

Handman admits he is disappointed. He had budgeted for the Splash to bring in at least $60,000 this season. He believes it ought to be grossing $100,000 for the orchestra annually.

So what did folks get for their 100 pennies? A kids' tent with magicians and ice-cream. A flamenco dance showcase. A military band concert. And the Victoria Symphony itself, a 50-plus ensemble that has practised for years to achieve excellence in music. We enjoyed Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Strauss, Elgar and the traditional 1812 Overture complete with cannon and fireworks.

The fun started at 2 p.m. with the children's entertainment and finished at 10 p.m. So if you dropped in a dollar and stayed for the whole thing, your cost was 12.5 cents an hour. Are you embarrassed yet?

Of course, it's not exactly as if everyone who attended the Inner Harbour concert tossed a dollar into the plastic garbage pails that serve as donation bins. Some were doubtless much more generous, while others (the majority, I suspect) forked over nary a dime.

So what's the big deal? It's a free event, right? And besides, doesn't the government pay for it or, uh, something?

Handman says the first Splash was indeed staged 17 years ago as a thank-you to Victorians for supporting the orchestra over half a century.

After that, it became an admission-by-donation event.

Fearing the public wasn't getting the message, the organization last year publicized the Splash as being "by-donation" in its promotional materials.

That move helped bring up the 2005 donation level to $42,000, the same gross as this year.

Forty-two thousand might not sound too shabby. But after expenses, the Victoria Symphony will likely walk away this season with just $20,000. And if you consider what a massive event the Symphony Splash is -- indeed, the largest of its kind in Canada -- it's peanuts.

Other symphony fundraisers, requiring a fraction of the work, have raised as much as $125,000.

"If you did a cost-benefit analysis of the Splash, you'd kinda go way out of your mind," Handman says.

About $200,000 is paid out in staging the Symphony Splash, and that doesn't include the efforts of 250 volunteers plus in-kind donations. Government funding and sponsors cover only some of the cost.

Cash from local sponsors adds up to $104,000. The Symphony Splash receives a $40,000 grant from the province. The City of Victoria provides a $4,500 grant -- paltry considering the Splash is one of this town's defining events. By comparison, the city allocated $50,000 this year to the International Arts Symposium happening next month. And the City of Victoria charged the orchestra for municipal tents it rented.


One might imagine Tourism Victoria would play up the Splash big time. Alas, no.

The tourism office offers virtually no support, save for including photos on some promo materials.

"You'd think we just don't exist if you ever went to Tourism Victoria," Handman says.

Strange, isn't it? After all, the Symphony Splash attracts scads of tourists, as well as locals.

Some even book their visits here to fit in with the show. Is Tourism Victoria missing the boat?

Maybe the Splash needs a snappy motto. How about "A toonie for the tunes," or "A sawbuck for the symphony?" I think it's reasonable to expect citizens might donate $5 each to attend.

Families ought to drop $20. Even if all 42,000 attendees ponied up $2 each, the orchestra's revenues would double.

If you went to the Splash for free and you're feeling guilty, it's not too late. Just send that cheque to the Victoria Symphony, 846 Broughton St., Victoria, V8W 1E4.

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#2 aastra

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 01:00 PM

Take a poll and you'll find a significant number of Victorians don't even know the city HAS a symphony orchestra.

#3 Mike K.

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 07:08 AM

The 20th "Bayview Residences Victoria Symphony Splash" is taking place Saturday, August 2nd, on the harbour.

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#4 victorian fan

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:58 AM

20 years! Ye Gods. And I've still got the t-shirt I bought.

#5 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:10 PM

Just thought I'd re-post myself (from the Moss Street Paint-In thread):

One of the greatest free events in the US is the Fourth of July Boston Pops Concert on the Charles River Esplanade, followed by fireworks in time to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. The event is televised nationally, and it's a treasure. And it's totally and utterly free for the attendees who brave 90+ degree temperatures, bringing lawn chairs and blankets early to secure a spot.

What's wrong with free? Nothing. Free is great.

What's wrong with Victoria is that free isn't marketed properly. The Symphony Splash, for example, should be televised nationally by CBC, and further to that, it should take place on the First of July. It should be for Canada what the Boston Pops is for the US.

But oh no, we're much too [bleep] modest for that, eh?

PS/ Edit: compare the Pops website to what Vic Symphony (search for splash). Hint: we could make a lot more out of this, we can make a lot more out of free. That's the economy of the future. Free is good. (#)

and:

In Boston, being cheap (shlepping lawn chairs to the Esplanade, broiling in the sun all day long, putting up with gonzo exiting strategies when the concert is over - MBTA packed to capacity in every direction, all roads clogged with cars, etc etc) to hear the Boston Pops play the 4th of July concert is celebrated as an embodiment of the spirit of '76, the spirit of New England, the spirit of Boston - and lo!, it's marketed to the rest of the country as an essential component of Americana that's celebrated coast to coast. It is taken as proof positive of love of country or place.

Here, we have Symphony Splash - a beloved event (proof positive of love) - and it's downplayed (instead of up-played) as an event for cheapskates, for people who don't want to spend serious coin on culture.

Give your heads a shake. Symphony Splash could be so much more. Just because it's free doesn't mean it's not valuable.

Combine it with July 1st. Make it a family event the way Boston Pops on the Esplanade is. Get the CBC to televise it coast to coast. Make Victoria into a kind of "Boston" of Canada: history, culture, heritage, etc., with an Asian twist to boot. Get the whole damn country to tune in to watch Symphony Splash in Victoria on Canada Day. (#)

For free.

And if you don't know how to make coin out of that, it's your own damn fault.

Seriously. Forget about doing this on BC Day (or whatever it is). Take over Canada Day instead.
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#6 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:13 PM

Yoo-hoo! From the Bayview / Symphony Splash website:

Bayview Residences Victoria Symphony Splash is the largest annual outdoor symphony event in Canada, attracting up to 40,000 Victoria residents and visitors.
http://victoriasymph...lash/index.html

<kof> Canada Day <kof> Boston Pops <kof> hint hint
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#7 Mike K.

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 02:35 PM

40,000 peeps will be there? That's wild!

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#8 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 10:09 PM

The Blue Angels are in Seattle all weekend for Seafair, too bad the Snowbirds aren't coming for the Splash, they could re-enact the war of 1812 together.

#9 VicDuck

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 10:37 PM

That was a great war because we kicked America's ass.

#10 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 10:45 PM

That was a great war because we kicked America's ass.


In the re-enactment our Tutors from the 60's might not do so well against their fa-18's. They lost to us but got their own independant country 200 years sooner than us.

#11 Jill

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 08:14 AM

After what happened at Luminara, I feel I must point out to those planning to attend the Splash this year to BRING MONEY and DONATE IT TO THE SYMPHONY. This is a fundraiser for the non-profit symphony, and the provincial government has severely slashed grants to arts groups. See Holden West's first post in this thread if you need someone to lay out the reasons why you should make a donation in return for the entertainment.

Also, the Times Colonist is warning people that chaining lawn chairs to the railings of the Inner Harbour at dawn and coming back later to claim them is not permitted. If you plant a chair in the morning, be prepared to sit and wait until the start of the concert. Sounds fair to me.

#12 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 08:31 AM

In the re-enactment our Tutors from the 60's might not do so well against their FA-18's. They lost to us but got their own independant country 200 years sooner than us.


mis-post.

#13 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 08:45 AM

After what happened at Luminara, I feel I must point out to those planning to attend the Splash this year to BRING MONEY and DONATE IT TO THE SYMPHONY. This is a fundraiser for the non-profit symphony, and the provincial government has severely slashed grants to arts groups. See Holden West's first post in this thread if you need someone to lay out the reasons why you should make a donation in return for the entertainment.


For a while, Folkfest seemed to me to do it right. They set up tables of volunteers, with spaces between them that you entered through. The fact was that you didn't have to buy a button to enter between the tables, but you kind of felt obligated, and indeed everyone was asked to buy one.

Another plan:

I don't think it would hurt to have the Symphony team up with some retailers like Thrifty Foods etc., many months out start giving out entry buttons with a minimum purchase of groceries etc., of say, $75 or whatever, it could be different between different retailers. Then that retailer submits the revenues to Splash, one person could get many buttons and share with neighbours that don't shop at Thrifty's or buy gas at Petro-Canada etc., but if you get to the event and don't have one, you MUST buy one, under this plan.

Do they still sell glo-ropes? You can get those things bulk for about $.10 each, I think.

#14 spanky123

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 11:29 AM

That was a great war because we kicked America's ass.


I don't know about "we" as Canada wasn't a country in 1812.

With respect to the war, most Canadians remember the defeat of the Americans and the capture of Detroit in 1812 and the burning of what is now the "White House", but forget about the British defeats in Baltimore (which inspired the writing of the US Nation Anthem) and New Orleans. The war ended with the border intact as both the British and Americans got tired of fighting.

History lesson over.

#15 Mike K.

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 06:19 AM

Just before the 1812 Overture began, Adam Sawatsky from A Channel said the symphony's goal for the evening was $20,000 short of the $60,000 it was hoping to raise. He made a plea for more donations, but I don't know if that made much of an impact.

The music itself was wonderful, but the presentation could have been much, much better, and the organizers could have done a much better job infusing the so-called "security staff" with some manners and crowd management. Imagine to our surprise standing next to a line of people waiting at a waffle stand, that we were somehow an impediment to others trying to enjoy the show according to an elderly member of the "security staff." He was adamant we and about 30 others move along to make room for five or six people who were sitting on a little planter next to the waffle stand. Apparently 30 people must be shooed away for a handful. On top of that an enraged elderly gentlemen took it upon himself to push the crowd away, yelling "have some compassion, you're blocking my view."

Good grief. People felt entitled to secure their little snippets of a view, even though they were sitting in places where crowds were likely to gather, or they were hardly in positions meant to have a view in the first place but would do everything in their power to protest any impediment between them and the stage. I agree that not many had the privilege of an unobstructed view (heck, we sat down on the legislature steps and watched the "music making tree" ;)) but if people are that bent on it, why not install a couple of large screens? Afterall, one of the major sponsors is a television studio, no?

And did anyone hear the cannon fire? Apparently 20 teenagers from across Canada, or something to that effect, were to set off the canons during the 1812 Overture but all we heard were the bangs from the fireworks.

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#16 victorian fan

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 08:55 AM

[Edited by admin] Please reference photographs posted on the forum.

#17 spanky123

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 09:16 AM

On top of that an enraged elderly gentlemen took it upon himself to push the crowd away, yelling "have some compassion, you're blocking my view.


Reminds me of last year when I went to the Moss Street paint in. I parked on a side street in front of a house. Less than 30 seconds after I stopped the car, some old lady comes storming out of her house to inform me that the street was for resident parking only and if I didn't move my car she would have it towed.

The paint-in is held in the same place every year and for 1 day this lady has a car parked in front of her house. Sheesh.

#18 aastra

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 09:47 AM

"Have some compassion, you're blocking my view."


That could be Victoria's motto.

Or maybe, "My view is more important than your view."

#19 victorian fan

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 12:54 PM

While the final total isn’t in yet, early indications show donations were up this year, said Bethany Wilson, marking director for the Bayview Residences Victoria Symphony Splash


Splash costs $300,000 to stage and the event has never met its goal of collecting $5 a head.



more:

http://www.timescolo...5437/story.html

#20 weirdie

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 07:30 AM

Good grief. People felt entitled to secure their little snippets of a view, even though they were sitting in places where crowds were likely to gather, or they were hardly in positions meant to have a view in the first place


I didn't understand that either. I walked to the harbour from my house at about 9:30, through the crowd in front of the Legislature, and found a completely unobstructed view near the wax museum.

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