Cultural organisations are closed in most countries and will be for a while. US research agency IMPACT is looking into data that can help prepare for the time when organisations can re-open.
The key data they analyse is “intent to visit”. Colleen Dilenschneider is sharing this data weekly now in her blog Know-your-own-bone.
The data is US focused so to be taken cautiously as an indicator for other markets, and it is early days, and as we see with this crisis, things can change very quickly. Keeping this in mind, I find Colleen’s conclusion interesting that
“demand for cultural enterprise will not be (at least immediately) distributed as it was pre-coronavirus.”
The data indicates demand for visits might be redistributed away from some organisation types and towards others, which will be important to consider for re-opening. Three main trends seem to emerge and sound like common sense in the current environment:
Cultural experiences that allow for relative freedom of movement and in particular outside spaces (such as public parks, botanic gardens, zoos, aquariums, historic sites, museums) may get increased demand;
Enclosed spaces with minimal visitor movement (such as performing arts) may get less demand;
Tactile experiences (such as those offered at science centres) may get less demand.
The data is from the US and still very fresh, thus might change, however, it might trigger some useful discussions for the planning of the eventual reopening: What practical measures will be required to allow physical distancing? What reassurances are needed? How to best communicate this.
The difficult choices ahead for funders supporting the arts out of the crisis
The pandemic is a big challenge for the cultural sector and things might not be the same again once we have overcome it.
Alan Brown of WolfBrown, a research and consulting firm serving the arts and culture sector, offers a sobering view of the decisions that will need to be taken to rebuild the arts sector after the Covid-19 crisis in this article. While written from a US perspective, it provides challenging food for thought relevant in other parts of the world.
For arts funders, the moral dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis are heartbreaking but unavoidable.
In a sector where many are under financial strain even in the best of times, some of the tough questions he brings up are:
Should funders continue supporting the same organizations they give grants to year after year, or shift focus to other, more vulnerable organizations?
Should support of institutions be prioritized above support of self-employed arts workers?
Should funding be prioritized for keeping viable nonprofits going, or for salvaging the assets of those whose only option is bankruptcy?
Or, should capital be preserved for supporting the eventual ramp up of programming activity amongst those fortunate enough to survive?
His article kicks off a series of papers, blogs and announcements by WolfBrown that will examine the arts sector’s response to COVID-19. Read the article here, where you can also subscribe to the series.