The Power of the Media or When Bad News is Good News


In late December, we were surprised and sorry to see news on the front page of the Enquirer that the Cincinnati Ballet canceled a performance of the Nutcracker – for the first time ever.

Mention of the Cincinnati Ballet decision made it into media stories across the country about the impact of the economy on nonprofits -- including in Lexington, North Carolina, California, and New York

But wait until you hear the “rest of the story”!


After the announcement appeared on the front page of the Enquirer, the Ballet had four record ticket-sale days. There's a theory among the staff that the spotlight of the front page let people in our community know that they could still get a ticket to the beloved holiday show.

The Ballet staffers heard from ticket buyers that they were surprised to learn that they could get a ticket. And apparently, these Enquirer readers called in large numbers!

Of course, we don't know for sure – but is it possible that a different kind of news coverage would lead to more access and participation in arts events in our community?

Maybe we need more high-profile stories about upcoming opportunities to share in our arts. This kind of attention might be useful all the time -- not just when the economy is strained. It's an idea worth testing. In this case, bad news rapidly became good news for the Ballet.

Overall, Nutcracker attendance this recent holiday season exceeded the previous year by thousands. The Ballet offered some special ticket prices in light of the economy – still revenue was only down by two percent compared to last year.

This is all splendid news since the Nutcracker is so important to the fiscal health of the Ballet – and equally importantly, it’s excellent that so many have the Nutcracker experience and memory…. one of the great joys of living in our community.