On April 24, 2015, the Grand Rapids Symphony celebrated its 85th anniversary with LiveArts, a large-scale multi-media event that included about 1,500 performers for a ticketed audience of over 7,000 in the city’s Van Andel Arena.
LiveArts recognized and honored the performing arts in western Michigan. The Grand Rapids Symphony shared the stage with the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and Youth Chorus, the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, the Grand Rapids Ballet, Opera Grand Rapids, Broadway Grand Rapids, and two high school marching bands. The program included moments from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Puccini’s Tosca, and Orff’s Carmina Burana.
Planning for such an event occurred over one year in advance. Media coverage, ranging from interviews and stories to blogs, occurred on all local television and radio stations. Of the social media coverage, 55% was Twitter, 35% was Instagram, and 10% was Facebook.
Audience members ranged from local dignitaries to those accustomed to attending hockey games at the arena. The atmosphere was festive and alive. AFM Negotiator Nathan Kahn was in the audience and noted that “LiveArts was perhaps the greatest showcase of a community’s first class performing arts I have ever seen.”
Final ticket revenue for LiveArts was $134,074, with 7,393 tickets sold and 7,149 in attendance. In all, LiveArts raised $1.2 million, with all proceeds going to the Grand Rapids Symphony.
Michael Kaiser, Chairman of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, properly predicted the success of LiveArts in an interview before the performance: “I think it is going to be an evening that people in Grand Rapids will never forget.”