Familiar holiday plays, ballets, and concerts seem to fill Nashville’s arts calendars every December. Those traditional shows make a big impact on the bottom line of the performing groups that stage them.
Just about every ballet company puts on The Nutcracker each Christmas because it’s sure to draw a crowd. For the Nashville Ballet, that holiday classic now has a run of 11 shows. That’s almost four times as many as are scheduled for their upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet.
Christmas concerts are considered a must by many musical ensembles for the same reason. And increasingly, theatre groups are staging the same holiday shows year after year. For the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, it’s “A Christmas Story.” Artistic Director Renee Copland says having something that audiences consider a tradition has become a form of insurance.
“As the economy has become less stable, it’s healthy for us to have something that’s relatively dependable in a world of things that are completely undependable.”
Nashville even has a precedent for holiday shows saving an arts organization. Officials with the Nashville Symphony say Amy Grant’s long run of Christmas concerts with the orchestra were critical to pulling that group of out bankruptcy in the mid-90’s, both because they drew in strong audiences, and because Grant not only donated her services as a singer but helped underwrite the shows.