Roswell Symphony Orchestra—Send-A-Senior
Senior citizens on a fixed income hear the symphony
The Roswell Symphony Orchestra has been a part of its community in New Mexico for 47 seasons, becoming an integral part of the town. Fellow community members living on a rigidly fixed income found it impossible to attend the RSO, despite reasonable ticket prices. The Send-A-Senior program began in 1992, and has made it possible for seniors to attend the RSO over 11,000 times.
How it works:
The program provides senior citizens an opportunity to attend RSO concerts free of charge. It relies on sponsorships from local businesses who donate money in $50 increments. The businesses solicited by the orchestra are identified through a business listing from the chamber of commerce. For every $50 donated, a senior can attend the entire season. Meanwhile, the RSO matches every sponsorship, sending a second senior for that same $50 donation. The RSO places a coupon ad in the area’s newspaper, the Roswell Daily Record, on Tuesday, eleven days before the Saturday night concert. Individuals over the age of 60 must snip the coupon out of the paper, fill it out and send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the symphony. The senior may request one or two tickets. The newspaper lists all the business donors for that season, and they are also listed in the program for each concert. The newspaper donates the advertising space to the RSO. Business donations are not limited to $50; several organizations allow two, three, or four seniors to attend each concert through donations of $100, $150, or $200, respectively. Seniors unable to drive are transported with the help of the local adult center. Aside from the ad in the paper and the brochure mailing to businesses, there is no additional advertisement necessary due to the long and positive history of the program. Businesses expect to contribute yearly, and seniors know when to check the paper for their ticket submission form.
This 2006-07 season highlights 32 different sponsors, mostly businesses with a few individuals, that have enabled more than 60 seniors to attend each concert of the season. Since the program’s start fourteen years ago, Send-A-Senior has brought an average of 120 seniors to every concert. The seniors have the satisfaction of never experiencing a rejection. Up to this point, the RSO has never turned away a senior who has requested a ticket. On the rare occasions that business sponsorships do not cover the cost of seniors requesting tickets, the symphony picks up the tab. The seniors are quite thankful for the program, which facilitates continued interaction in the community.
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Another Orchestra with a Similar Program:
The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, based in Corning, N.Y., has just started the Send-A-Senior program for the 2006-07 season. The orchestra encourages businesses to either donate tickets for individual concerts at a 40 percent reduced rate, or to donate a full season at a 52 percent reduction. The businesses are listed in each concert’s brochure in addition to their recognition on the orchestra’s website. Within the first week of operation, the Send-A-Senior program collected five business contributions. As more contributions steadily come in, the program is growing as fast as word spreads. The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes looks forward to a deeper relationship within the community, and particularly with their senior neighbors.
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