Attendance numbers for the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra are expected to surpass 50,000 in 2017, more than double the 22,000 who attended in 2009.
A major reason for the bigger audiences are expats.
Carlos Salazar of Cuenca’s member of the local tourist and cultural affairs boards, says that foreign residents are the single biggest factor in growth of attendance at musical and other artist events in the city in recent years.
“The foreigners from Europe, the U.S. and Canada, are responsible for a dramatic increase in attendance at a variety of local events,” he says. “It is especially visible when you look at the faces in symphony audiences,”
Symphony volunteer Katy Hermida agrees that expats and foreign tourists are the biggest factor in pushing up attendance numbers. “It is not unusual for us to see a third of our audience as foreigners, and sometimes it is as much as half. This is very gratifying and we hope the quality of our programs continues to be attractive to the visitors.”
Andrés Pinto, former tourism instructor at the University of Cuenca, says that expats have been a positive force not just with the symphony, but with all aspects of cultural life in Cuenca. “They increase the numbers at art exhibits and stage performances,” he says. “And by being supporters of the arts, they help Cuencanos understand the treasures we have in this city, and increase local participation as well.”
“As I understand it, there are about 5,000 North American and European foreigners living in Cuenca, and most of them have arrived within the past seven to eight years,” Pinto says. “This is wonderful for the community and guarantees a vibrant future for the arts in the city.”