Hidden from small

Tina Wells - In The Spotlight

December 03, 2014

A Monthly Profile of Orchestra Fans and Family

How do you attract a younger audience to classical music concerts? Consult “The Millennial Whisperer,” of course! That’s what the business magazine Fast Company dubbed 34-year-old Tina Wells, CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group and member of the Board of The Philadelphia Orchestra Association since 2008.

“I think that the biggest challenge is truly understanding that they’re a generation of digital natives,” says Wells. “What’s exciting for me is all of the new tools available to help brands connect with millennials. So campaigns are more easily measured today and can have deeper impact. The Orchestra is doing a great job connecting with a younger audience via social media, and Opening Night’s new format was fabulous!”

Born in Lancaster, PA, Wells grew up in South Jersey and first heard The Philadelphia Orchestra as a high school student. She started attending concerts regularly when she turned 27 and joined the Board a year later with, as one Orchestra fundraiser puts it, “a ton of great ideas.” She volunteered, for example, to spearhead efforts to involve more Young Friends—patrons age 21-40—in Opening Night festivities, and brought nearly 100 young people to the concert hall.

“Working on the Young Friends initiative has been so much fun!” says Wells. “First, I was able to work with so many of my good friends. Given our busy schedules, it was nice to have something we could all do together to keep in touch. Second, it was a great way to get to know the musicians better. We have so many talented and fun musicians. They’re absolutely great people and I’m glad I have been able to get to know them better.”

Wells counts this year’s Opening Night—which featured Yannick Nézet-Séguin and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing a four-hand piano work in a French-themed evening—as a favorite moment of the 2014-15 season so far. “I loved the spotlight on musicians, and seeing them in small groups. It really felt like I was at a cabaret in Paris! It was one of those performances where you realize what a gift this Orchestra is to this city and to the world.”

Named one of Essence magazine’s 40 under 40, Billboard’s 30 under 30, Inc.’s 30 under 30, and Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, Wells also serves on the Young Entrepreneur Council, the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, and the Franklin Institute’s Board of Directors. She was just elected in October to another three-year term on the Orchestra Board.

Her recruits to the Orchestra’s Young Friends committee, meanwhile, have continued to bring in young patrons to fundraisers, receptions, and happy hours, which increasingly include a number of the ensemble’s also-young musicians. The goal: to keep the audience coming.

“We just have to continue to do more and be consistent,” says Wells. “This Orchestra should give us all something to be proud of. It’s truly extraordinary. We should appreciate this local treasure and make sure our children and their children can enjoy this great music for decades to come.