COVID-19 brought the performing arts sector to its collective knees. Rather than experiencing a highly anticipated 20/21 season we all planned, we felt the impact of a virus that shuttered our theaters, isolated our audiences and strangled the talents of millions of performers worldwide.
Next to the tourism sector, the cultural and creative sectors were the most damaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a long road for so many artists, organizations, and the audiences who support them.
Finally, as 2020 drew to a close, the advent and distribution of new vaccines gave us a light at the end of the tunnel. A light so bright that many international superstars like England’s Sir Elton John, Canada’s pop king Justin Bieber and South Africa’s sensational rap-rave fusion performers Die Antwoord are booking live shows to start mid-year stateside.
This is terrific news for the performers, stage crews and administrative experts that make the performing arts happen. And it’s great news for audiences, too. Everyone is eager to socialize and enjoy performing arts in 21/22!
The pandemic has taught us some new habits, though, and audiences will be reluctant to break them.
Audiences & The Arts: Behaviors We’ll See in 21/22
Even come a time of widespread vaccinations and potential herd immunity, your patrons will have COVID-19 safety habits well-ingrained.
Plainly put, social habits have changed. A casual handshake or hug in the lobby during a matinée in 2019 will be awkwardly avoided by reluctant parties in 21/22. And the formal baise-main — the kissing of a lady’s hand at a formal gathering, a tradition nearly lost in the US anyhow — is likely gone forever.
Come the 21/22 season, attendees are likely to be hyper-aware of health issues and closely aware of hand hygiene.
What are savvy organizations doing to prepare for this unusual season, you ask?
Changes Coming to Performing Arts Marketing for 21/22
Digital marketing and digital program books will be hotter than ever this season, but some long-time arts patrons will always prefer a hard copy they can cherish as a memento. As the season plays out and things normalize further, a tangible program book will again become a big part of the overall audience experience.
This puts marketers in a tight spot. Budgets are FAR tighter than usual post-pandemic. How can they afford both digital media and print program books on a bare-bones budget? Especially when smaller runs can equal higher cost-per-copy.
How Arts Marketers can Plan for the 21/22 Season
Every performing arts organization — and every venue they call home — will have a different approach this year. Most arts marketers will face a balancing act between budget, reach, and the benefits of targeted advertising that comes from association with the arts.
While this piece isn’t meant to be a sales pitch, Onstage’s Arts Marketer’s 21-22 Season Restart Program could be part of the answer. We are combining both limited-run prints with digital for a low monthly rate of $295.00/mo. We hope you’ll consider this as an affordable opportunity to find both the digital and print products you need during the comeback.
Ultimately, it’s going to be a time of creativity and invention in our sector, and the team at Onstage looks forward to hearing about all the creative solutions you implement this year. Please keep us informed of your creative ideas for social distanced seating, online broadcasts, and any other new concepts that crop up thanks to the pandemic.
Our goal is to free-up performing arts organizations and marketers from the hassle of selling advertising and publishing program books. So we brought economies of scale to the program book publication process. Our coordinators, production artists, and professional sales staff can publish high-end program books for performing arts organizations cheaper and more efficiently than any organization across the country.
But the best part for arts marketers is that we pay our clients to let us do the work! How about that ray of hope in a post-pandemic year!
Over the decades, we’ve refined our process and grown with technology. Today, we offer a custom web portal for our clients. And we’ve learned a thing or two about audience engagement (check out more of our blogs to see what we know). We’ve added digital resources like online program books, free digital signage in your performance space and unique new audience interaction features.
In closing, we leave you with these words penned by Shakespeare, Act 4, Scene 1, of Much Ado About Nothing. While taken a bit out of context here (Leonato was speaking about revenge), we find them entirely appropriate for this day.
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
Nor age so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havoc of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find awaked in such a kind
Both strength of limb and policy of mind
Remember, although our industry was hit hard by the pandemic, we are not without friends, leaders, and legions of patrons who are ready to take part in the 21/22 season. We’re in this together!