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Pittsburgh's Opera, Symphony Orchestra, and Ballet Theatre Release Digital Content to Stay Afloat

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Pittsburgh's Opera, Symphony Orchestra, and Ballet Theatre Release Digital Content to Stay Afloat

Pittsburgh arts organizations, like those across the country and the world, are all brainstorming ways to stay afloat during the health crisis.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Opera all released streaming content since everything shut down in March.

The Symphony Orchestra said that the videos produced during quarantine drew around five times the number of views as similar videos from 2019. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre professionally produced "PBT En Pointe", a video that brought in more viewership in June than the company's average ballet performance in the Benedum Center.

Pittsburgh Opera hosted a virtual gala, which sold as many tickets as its in-person galas typically do.

"We basically broke even between ticket sales and the costs of the video," said Christian Cox, marketing and communications director at Pittsburgh Opera. "It wasn't a revenue generator and wasn't intended to be. This was about keeping up engagement."

The Opera also released a series of daily videos where members of the company introduced clips from their archives, each of which received around 1,000 views on average. The PSO also published daily videos featuring musicians at home that averaged around 7,400 views each.

Some struggles these companies have had to face are contractual issues that determine what they are, and aren't, allowed to post. For example, the Pittsburgh Opera is not allowed to post or stream complete arias from operas without compensating artists, but this restriction was waived during the pandemic.

"I'd be very surprised when we're post-COVID if all the kinds of digital engagement initiatives we were doing lately just vanished," Cox said. "Some things will continue; some won't. It's very important to resist the temptation to just throw content out for the sake of throwing up content."

Read more on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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