Publication Date

Fall 12-7-2023

Document Type

Student Project

First Advisor

Schuller, Mark

Degree Name

B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)


Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies



The Symphony is a dying breed of live music. The lack of classical music education and interest has left barriers to the symphony. Around the country, nonprofit symphonies are adapting to build a sustainable audience. So, how do we stop the closures of the orchestras? How does the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra engage the community through programming and events to accommodate a new sustainable audience for the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra (KSO)? My research will show that new audience members are waiting to be introduced to the symphony.

This research shows that community engagement is the key to bringing a sustainable audience to the concert hall. Understanding what the audience wants from the KSO will help with programming, social media presence, and community engagement efforts. Through my research, I produced an audience survey to determine what DeKalb residents want from the KSO. The survey revealed that the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra is doing what is most necessary for the community. But there is room for improvement, to access what most Symphony Orchestras desire, a sustainable audience. The data will help focus these efforts to draw in a new audience by changing the way the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra engages with the community. Making changes to programming to shape orchestra music for an audience that may have never been exposed to classical music before is essential. This research shows that it may be beneficial to go beyond the borders of the cities of DeKalb and Sycamore. Community engagement according to the research is the vehicle that steers the KSO towards successfully obtaining a sustainable audience.