There’s no need to dwell on the weird times in which we live and work right now – I’ll save that for another post – but I have found it helpful to see the emerging research that might help us to regroup and recover in future.
We are all concerned about the implications of CoViD19 restrictions in relation to our work, our social lives and our families. For me, every day brings another *Gasp!* moment, when I think of another link in the chain that might potentially be lost – I can’ only support one of those at a time…
Here, I’ve collected together links to some of the material I’ve found useful to my thinking so far and I will add more over time. It’s not exhaustive, and I’m afraid I haven’t had chance to absorb the findings enough to provide any incisive synthesis, but I hope you might find something here of value to your own plans.
RECOVERY IN BRUM
A useful panel debate between professionals drawn from Birmingham’s public, arts, finance, commercial, property and retail sectors.
It took place on 19 May 2020 and from it I gained an illuminating insight into the interconnectedness of all things, of how tricky it will be, when trying to recover the life of our richly complex city, to reconnect the circuits and ensure that as few people get left behind as possible.
The chair was Marc Reeves, Editor-in-Chief, Business Live, and the speakers were:
- Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council
- Lara Ratnaraja, Freelance Cultural Consultant
- Mark Orton, Partner, KPMG
- Nicola Fleet-Milne, Chair, Colmore BID and CEO, FleetMilne Property
- Sam Watson, Chair, Retail BID and General Manager, Selfridges
- Steve Banham, Divisional Director, Brewin Dolphin
You can find a lot more material on the KPMG website about business and commercial recovery which will help you to get a view of the wider picture.
SECTOR SPECIFIC RESEARCH
To better understand the status quo and what might come next, NEMO (Network of European Museum Organisations) launched a survey to map COVID-19’s impact on the European museum sector. The results were published on 12 May 2020 in a report with accompanying recommendations. NEMO will continue to support the museum sector with information about the situation as well as monitoring re-opening plans.
In planning for a life beyond lockdown, and for re-opening, we need to know how our audiences feel. It’s essential to understand how keen they are to return, what they miss the most and how we can make our visitors and our workforce feel confident enough to come back.
After the Interval (Indigo) has been designed to capture audience views how they feel about missing out on live events during lockdown, booking tickets now and in future and what they feel about returning to live arts events.
ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) have commissioned Decision House to undertake similar Recovery Tracker research to build an understanding of how the sector can build trust and confidence among the attractions-visiting public.
Both have released wave 1 reports (relating to surveys carried out in April) on their websites (click on the links above). These reports will added to as the waves continue, with final reports planned for October 2020.
ALVA posed two major practical questions that attractions are likely to have ahead of re-opening:
- How should we physically present ourselves on re-opening to build public trust and confidence in visiting?
- What communications messages should we put out there to build confidence and capture the public mood?
Some headlines from the ALVA Wave 1 report indicates how cautious the respondents feel, even at an early stage in lockdown when the full implications of how long restrictions might last was unclear:
- The tracker indicates a growing anticipation of visiting attractions within the next 3-6 months, perhaps a reaction to horizons for overseas travel becoming further away
- Market is highly cautious overall, but a quick return is more likely for gardens and country parks.
- Many potential visitors are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach in fear of a second wave of the virus.
- A significant proportion of attraction visitors are currently feeling that they will not return until a vaccine is available or the virus at least appears to be comprehensively beaten.
- Caution is widespread, but there are some groups who are more likely to return as soon as the opportunity arises.
- Around two thirds of the market will feel increased anxiety about a visit, so reassurance before and during a visit will be critical. Anxiety appears to be less related to the type of attraction.
After the Interval Wave 1 findings echo this caution:
- 93% of respondents are missing live events; 74% miss the buzz of the audience, and 55% look forward to supporting their local arts venue.
- Only 17% are actually buying tickets now; 75% would want some form of safety measure to be in place before they return; and 28% would prefer to stay away from large gatherings, even when events get back underway.
Lockdown life has forced people online and accelerated our need to understand, embrace and develop our skills in operating in the digital realm.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has commissioned research in to digital attitudes and skills in the heritage sector. Your responses will inform their strategic funding direction in the coming months so it’s really helpful to take part. They are seeking to find out:
- What key digital attitudes and skills heritage staff and volunteers already have.
- What new uses of digital technology they would like to explore.
The survey is open to UK heritage organisations of all sizes so sign up and participate here: Digital Attitudes and Skills for Heritage (DASH) survey
OPERATIONAL ISSUES ON REOPENING
A National Museum Directors’ Council (NMDC)-led cross-sectoral working group is developing good practice guidance on museum reopening with DCMS’ support. The approach is guided by the safety of visitors and staff, and financial sustainability. The guidance acknowledges the complexity of the sector, where each museum will be working within a unique set of circumstances and responding to local contexts. The guidance will be available in early June.
Ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums, has been collecting a series of CoViD19 resources, plans and guidelines for re-opening from venues across Europe and sharing this material on their website. There’s a lot of material here and the site is well worth rummaging about on – material has been submitted from all over Europe so you might need Google translate as well!