Update for June 27, 2022: As the Omicron subvariants continue their path across the country, and with the rise of new subvariants (BA.4 and BA.5) that have been found to escape antibodies, the only constant seems to be uncertainty. Alan’s final monthly briefing on the Covid-19 study will address the lingering, and perhaps long-term effects of Covid-19 on demand for arts programming, product differentiation, and the implications for sustainable business models. (30 minutes)
The post-Omicron recovery seems to have leveled off in June
We are still looking at 15% to 20% long-term non-returners; positions have hardened
Less than half of non-returners cite health concerns as a reason for not returning
Increased volatility and reduced demand for lesser known artists and artistic works may be the new normal
Several questions were asked during the session. Alan has provided responses:
It feels from one of the slides that we have moved into a chronic covid state for some of our audiences. If that's the case what are the implications? Also, how firm is the conviction of those who say they want masks required? It’s an easy thing to agree with but I suspect that most if not all will show up if the mask requirement is dropped. -Charlie Wade
Alan Brown: Charlie, As Covid become endemic, it will likely be a chronic issue. The implications are that demand will be diminished to some extent, and/or more difficult to actualize, as some people will need health safety issues resolved before they’ll go out. I still think that offering a small number of performances in an enhanced health safety format will satisfy some of those needs. I agree with you that people are slowly learning that wearing a mask is something you do to protect yourself, and that the pro-mask folks will eventually accept that its not reasonable to expect everyone to wear a mask in perpetuity.
Does the ratio of returning to hesitant change from PAC to Orch to Theatre? -Jack Lemmon
Alan Brown: Jack, the theatre cohort has been most conservative in terms of health safety requirements and overall readiness, with the orchestras close behind. The PAC cohort, which includes a number of facilities in southern and midwestern states, has always been the least conservative about health safety, with higher readiness to return, and most vocal about dropping health safety protocols. However, I don’t think these are disciplinary differences, but reflective of regional differences, age differences, and, probably, political differences.
How do you recommend going about getting new affinity groups, if people don't seem to be going out as much? It's sort of a chicken and egg situation. -Ellen Gitelman
Alan Brown: Ellen, I think we need a new mental model for audiences that maps to their existing and evolving tastes in art. A lot of people have deep connections to the art but weak connections to our institutions. Their loyalty lies with the art form, not so much the institutions that present the art. So, I do believe that people will join affinity groups that correspond to their interests and tastes. This will require institutions to see themselves as trusted guides in community members’ lifelong journey through the art forms we represent. This opens the door to recommending digital programming by other organizations, even recommending excellent drama on television. We have such a transactional focus, and I think its quite limiting. The challenge is defining and organizing affinity groups in a way that is organic and self-reinforcing.