The Oceanside Classical Concerts’ first concert of the year isn’t until September, but the series is already selling subscriptions for its 2015/16 season. According to artistic director David Douglas, the subscription pays for entrance to all three of the season’s concerts and there will not be tickets sold for individual shows.
“It’s important for us to know where we are at,” he said, saying that the subscription model gives the series more financial stability. In turn, this stability allows organizers to book performers well ahead of time, which Douglas said is key to getting the “international-class performers” they want.
OCC started last year after Douglas thought that Parksville would be “the perfect place” to bring in a high-level concert series that showcased all types of classical music performed by predominately Canadian groups. That sentiment was echoed by the Oceanside Community Arts Council, who signed on to present the series. Joe Straka, president of the OCAC, said the audience for high-quality classical concerts is already in place as many of the people who retired in the area came from big cities. “Coming out here must feel like a wasteland,” he said. “It (the concert series) is bringing what the community is looking for.”
Douglas said the OCC is based on the White Rock Concerts, which was founded in 1956 by George Zukerman. The White Rock series is also subscription-based and according to that series’ website, the “annual sold-out memberships assure White Rock Concerts’ financial success, without dependence on federal, provincial or municipal grants.”
In order to best follow White Rock’s example, Douglas said he directly contacted Zukerman. “He gave me a lot of good advice,” said Douglas, adding that Zukerman signed on as artistic advisor to the OCC for two years.
Last year, Douglas said the OCC needed to sell around 150 subscriptions to break even. They sold just over 190.
“It’s been well received,” he said of the series. “People walk out of there and you can tell they’ve had a good time.”
“We’ve gotten nothing but praise,” added Straka. And that includes from Zukerman himself. In an email to the concert series’ organizers last month, the artistic advisor said, “I told you last year that you were making history on the Canadian scene. That was not just ‘hype.’ It’s true. Oceanside is the envy of classical organizers from coast to coast to coast.”
“You don’t really realize how big it gets,” said Linda Matteson-Reynolds, administrator at the MAC, in response to Zukerman’s comments.
So far, Douglas said 90 subscriptions have been renewed for the upcoming season and that the OCC’s goal is to have 250 subscriptions sold in total for the 2015/16 season. If they reach that, he said the organizers might be able to add a fourth show to the roster.
Douglas also said that there are 280 subscriptions available in total as this is the seating capacity of the OCC venue, Knox United Church.
“The acoustics in there are great, seats are comfortable,” he said. “It’s a dream venue.”
To buy a year’s subscription to the OCC, visit the McMillan Arts Centre, the Beach Club Resort or Knox United Church. Each costs $95. Douglas also said that the subscriptions are transferable, so you can let a friend use your pass if you don’t want to go to a particular show.