First Atlanta eliminates music from elementary schools. Now the faltering Woodruff Arts Centre is in the process of shutting down its useful and profitable symphony store and opening an airline bar in its place. This report from our correspondent Allen Brown:
Atlanta (Slipped Disc) – In its ongoing desperation for funds, the Woodruff Arts Center has decided to close its profitable Symphony Store and replace it with a Delta Sky Lounge.
The Symphony Store is a profitable gift and souvenir shop with a terrific variety of music-themed and arts-themed items, including T-shirts, home accessories, jewelry, neckties, aprons, greeting cards, books, umbrellas and scarves. The store also sells the entire catalog of ASO recordings, including those from the era of Robert Shaw. The store is part of the concert-goer’s experience, and helps promote the ASO brand with mementos that patrons purchase for themselves or to give as gifts. The merchandise is currently being liquidated. This weekend is the last concert of the season.
Though it’s a bit smaller, the store is far superior in displays and merchandise to the gift shops at the Kennedy Center, Dallas Symphony, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Many ASO patrons (and orchestra members) are outraged by the decision to end this ASO tradition and replace it with a Delta Sky Lounge.
The decision seems ill-advised for several reasons, not the least of which are the ample food and beverage options in the Robert Shaw Room for donor-subscribers, the 6-8 snack and beverage stations in the Symphony Hall galleria during concerts, as well as the adjacent restaurant, Table 1280, located in the piazza.
It would seem that alcohol sales is the new solution to fundraising. And it would also seem that replacing ASO branding with Delta branding is the way to woo patrons. Don’t we all want to be reminded during our Symphony excursions what a joy it is to be in airports and on airplanes?
WAC and ASO leaders, Virginia Hepner and Terry Neal, are grasping at straws.
UPDATE: In an unrelated development announced today, Delta are planning to open a similar Sky Lounge in London. This may be part of some ghastly global strategy.