Audience Engagement Post COVID-19

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James Black provides an update on how COVID-19 forced museums and cultural institutions to reshape how they interact with the public and still provide an engaging experience.

As the WSJ noted, “With galleries and museums closed due to Covid-19, online offerings blossomed—giving viewers the chance to experience outstanding exhibitions and masterpieces in a new, digital way.” (12/13/20).

From an analysis of the activities of 20+ institutions around the world, completed via desk research and interviews with various CEOs, board members, curators, and heads of advancement and marketing, among others, several themes emerged.

WHAT did museums and cultural institutions do during the shutdowns?

Covid made more institutions realize that live and digital programming are complementary, not competing. Many institutions built out online offerings; those with pre-existing platforms and capabilities had a distinct advantage in building engagement. Unsurprisingly, musical institutions may have had a head start in cultivating alternative channels (e.g., radio, digital, etc.) But museums quickly adapted to the new situation, expanding and intensifying their existing online activities. A number of smaller players, like the Frick in NY, were scrappy, driving creative executions, perhaps driven by their need to sustain visibility and raise funds.

Audience interest in programming was strong. As the Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC noted, “Audiences are clearly hungry for diversion, learning, enjoyment, and connection during this crisis.”

SO WHAT did they learn from this experience and reapply as they reopened?

 

Key points include:

  • Audience rewards
  • Improvement of production value
  • How to best reach and engage audiences in the “new normal.”

 

Read the full article, COVID-19 has served as a prism to reframe museums & cultural institutions, their activities, and how they serve their audiences as they have reopened, on LinkedIn.