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Deep Dive: "The Future of Digital Programming, Part 1"



The slides from this session are available:

Digital Strategies, June 28, 2021
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June 28, 2021 - With broad-scale reopening on the horizon, the question of post-pandemic digital strategies looms large. Most organizations see value in maintaining some level of digital programming, but the range of underlying strategies, and their financiaal viability and mission impact, are unclear. Much thinking, and much research, remains to be done. This session will take stock of the cumulative findings from the Audience Outlook Monitor study as regards demand for digital programming, including recent qualitative research investigating how arts patrons have navigated the landscape of digital programming over the past year. Our goal is to frame up the issues and opportunities surrounding digital strategies moving forward and recognize some of the key differences and issues faced by organizations working in different artistic disciplines. Guests: Alan Brown, Principal, WolfBrown, Surale Phillips, Independent Researcher and Consultant

Mandy Nace, Director of Digital Marketing, Philadelphia Orchestra


**** Chat Log *********************


Ron Evans: Welcome, everyone. We look forward to having you in the session.


Surale Phillips: Super excited about this session!


Ron Evans: Welcome, everyone. Please let us know your name and what organization you're with.


Ilana Barker: Ilana Barker, Flint Institute of Music


Nancy Helmers: Hello, Nancy from the Art Gallery of Burlington


Chris Kam: Chris Kam, The New Group, NYC


Michael Frisco - Detroit SO: Michael Frisco, Detroit Symphony Orchestra


Rachel Roccoberton: Rachel, The Dance Complex in Cambridge MA


Alan Brown: Great to see you all!


Charlie Wade: Charlie Wade - Philadelphia Orchestra


Chris Cox: Greetings from Pittsburgh!


Mark Marston: Hello from Pittsburgh Opera


Derek January: Hello from the Mattress Factory!


Ron Evans: If the small video streams are overlapping the presentation, try maximizing your screen or dragging it larger, and it should fix it.


Jo Manley: Were the focus groups only on orchestra patrons?


Alan Brown: Yes, Jo. We needed to focus on one discipline, so we chose orchestra patrons


Alan Brown: The landscape will be different for different disciplines, for sure


Ayne Terceira: Any data on platforms/programs that hosted live chats during a performance versus view-only experiences?


Surale Phillips: Ayne,


Surale Phillips: Ayne, not specifically but commented about loving the ability to chat during interactive programs.


Jo Manley: In theatre, it seems to be the opposite: patrons prefer pre-recorded content that they can choose to watch at any time as opposed to "appointment" viewing.


Michael Frisco - Detroit SO: Topical content, less performances and more reflection, interviews, etc.


Jo Manley: I work with a theatre that has screened its pre-recorded performances in art-house cinemas, and on drive-in big screens. Interesting audience building opportunities with other locations.


Surale Phillips: Yes, Jo!


Chad Peterson: Were there any questions asked about the development of new work for a digital platform, and what impact that might have on participation (new work vs known title.)


Nancy Helmers: Events, fundraisers


Rachel Roccoberton: Using digital programming for people who cannot access facilities or need additional assistance (CC, etc) or using it to expand potential audiences


Surale Phillips: Yes, Nancy! Thanks we need to add that


Jo Manley: Digital/virtual experiences can be high-end engagement technique as well: inviting major donors to a table read (for theatre) or an education/outreach event. Even post-pandemic this proves to be a useful tool, better in some cases than live.


Michael Frisco - Detroit SO: We launched "Between 2 Stands" in Spring 2020, which is essentially a talk show. It has become a great place for us to process topics relevant to the arts, including diversity, programming approaches, current events, etc.


Nancy Helmers: We fufilled a need from our school board fro digitla art classes


Mandy Nace: Michael that's such a great concept. Does Detroit have it's own Zach Galifianakis?


Jo Manley: Union regs make archiving less useful, as they limit public use beyond a certain contractual date.


Derek January: We launched digital tours at MF recently and our educators are really excited about keeping it as an option because with the digital aspect you can literally go into any topic and bring in any graphics/videos to support it, whereas with an in-person tour in the museum, you are limited by what you are seeing in front of you.


Jo Manley: So cool, Derek.


Surale Phillips: Great, example, Derek.


Jo Manley: Congrats to Philadelphia Orchestra on your affiliation/merger with Kimmel Center. Will you be extending your digital programming to other performances on your stages, or are artist contracts/usage rights still a barrier to that?


Michael Frisco - Detroit SO: Mandy - haha, no Zach Gal, but 3 musicians who are the hosts and were inspired by ZG, at least at first.


Surale Phillips: Chad, no, but that's an interesting question that should be explored!


Mandy Nace: Jo - thank you so much! No news on that yet but we're looking forward to lots of opportunities in the year ahead


Jo Manley: Marin Theatre Company just offered a live-stream theatrical experience, wherein patrons could (a) receive texts from a performer, (b) tour a virtual set, (c) select a scene which illuminated one or another character. Interactive, live digital theatre has attracted critical and audience attention. Not surprisingly, some patrons elected not to use any of the interactive functions, but the experience was designed to work either way--whether viewers chose to interact or simply watch.


Michael Frisco - Detroit SO: There's room to think iterative with this. If there's a way we believe the tech will serve a purpose, get it out and try.


Jo Manley: Your own (Wolf Brown) research indicates that patrons are interested in incorporating virtual programming into a mix of cultural experiences.


Mandy Nace: 100% agree, Michael. People's digital habits are going to evolve over the next year. Getting out there helps to tap into changing audience demands and trends


Michael Frisco - Detroit SO: And learn about the local preferences


Jo Manley: Wolf Brown (and other) research shows that there's still a significant percentage of patrons who are either not ready to return for health concerns, or not willing to return if inconvenienced by wearing a mask. Offering them inclusion via digital/virtual performances is an option in this first post-pandemic season.


Derek January: Everyone in Pittsburgh is still wondering where it's going to even be held haha


Michael Frisco - Detroit SO: Candles, it's all in the candles


Surale Phillips: superblue.com


Surale Phillips: LOL Michael


Ron Evans: The recording for this session will appear here about 3 minutes after the end of today's session.


Derek January: Thank you! Have a great week everyone!


Nancy Helmers: Thank you!


Jo Manley: Alan: many of us have done patron surveys that include virtual preferences. How about asking us to share and doing an info dump/share?


Paul: excellent as always! Thank you jall!


Ron Oshima: thank you


Ron Evans: Thank you for joining us, everyone!


Surale Phillips: Can we continue with the other strategies on a session part 2?