If you've ever been to the Pittsburgh Opera and felt that you really needed to know more about the principal oboist, or became so moved by a performance that you felt compelled to donate before the end of intermission, you're in luck. The Pittsburgh Opera app, launched in March 2019, includes information for all upcoming shows, full bios of all its staff, videos and photos of performances, audio samples, and much more. The app is part of a growing movement of Pittsburgh cultural organizations using technology to reach new audiences and connect more with their regulars.
“It is true that our ticket buyers tend to be a little older than the general population,” says Christian Cox, Pittsburgh Opera’s Director of Marketing and Communication. “But in terms of new audiences, we don't focus on age, we focus on behavior.”
Pittsburgh City Paper reached out to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (PBT), and Pittsburgh Opera to learn how more established, traditional cultural institutions are harnessing modern technology to push their missions forward.
PSO’s app offers similar functions, such as ticket purchasing, background information on the performers and shows, as well as places to eat and park around Heinz Hall.
PSO provides portable FM assistive listening devices and monitors on the side of the stage for audience members with deafness or hearing loss. Pittsburgh Opera offers assistive listening devices, Braille programs, audio commentary, and captioning.
Next year, the PSO will go even further with the world premiere of World’s Greatest Synth: The Making of the Orchestra, a piece co-commissioned with four other symphony orchestras and debuting in Chicago in March 2020. According to the PSO, the piece integrates “film, animation and pre-recorded sound with live performance” and “examines the inner workings of an orchestra.”
“World’s Greatest Synth: The Making of the Orchestra flies inside musical instruments to explore the age-old connection of creativity and technology,” says its composer, Mason Bates.
“[PBT is] hoping to attract audiences of differing abilities and backgrounds as well,” says Katie Drozynski, Media Relations and Content Marketing Manager at PBT. “We're working to expand our reach in the area to new neighborhoods and other parts of Western Pennsylvania, connect with more diverse audiences, make opportunities for people of different socioeconomic backgrounds to see ballet and make sure we are inviting to patrons of differing physical and intellectual abilities as well. Ballet is for everyone.”