Performing arts organizations today face the challenge of balancing traditional patron preferences with the need for environmental sustainability. While some patrons still prefer physical printed program books, the environmental impact of mass printing calls for more creative solutions. This is where hybrid program books can play a role – meeting patrons’ needs while reducing waste.
The Case for Hybrid Program Books
Arts organizations must serve patrons who still prefer browsing printed programs while also reducing paper waste and production costs. Hybrid solutions allow arts groups to print limited runs of physical program books while offering digital access for more tech-savvy patrons. This caters to both demographics and drastically decreases paper usage. Studies show that hybrid options can reduce an organization’s paper consumption by up to 80%. The associated reductions in transportation, inventory, and waste disposal costs also generate significant savings. Implementing hybrid program books is an effective strategy for boosting sustainability for both the performing arts organization as well as the environment.
Meeting Traditional Patrons’ Needs
For long-time patrons who prefer leafing through a printed program, arts organizations can produce limited print runs of thoughtfully designed physical books. Although print quantities will be reduced, programs can be printed on higher quality paper and feature exclusive insights, photos, and bonus content. Arts groups can gauge demand for printed programs via surveys and offer the option to order copies or purchase them onsite. Thoughtful design and exclusive content add value and make printed programs collectible for patrons.
Embracing Digital Alternatives
Digital program books expand access and provide cost-effective, eco-friendly alternatives for patrons preferring digital. With the right digital program book platform, patrons can quickly access programs on their devices in advance and refer to them easily at events. Arts organizations can include interactive features like audio, video, animations, and hyperlinks for enhanced engagement. Digital platforms also enable easy distribution across websites and social media. Transitioning fully to digital programs is optimal for reducing environmental impact; however, the hybrid model allows arts groups to dip their toes in while still catering to traditional patrons.
The key to successfully implementing hybrid programs is providing training and resources to help staff and patrons transition seamlessly. Arts organizations should partner with quality printing firms and digital platforms suited to their program needs, specifically ease of deliverability for the digital version (it should be as simple as an usher handing out a printed program.) Clear communication about the changes and incentive programs for going paperless are important. Staff should be trained to assist patrons in accessing and navigating digital programs during the transition period. An incremental rollout can help gauge demand before reducing printed quantities.
Measuring Sustainability Gains
Arts organizations can quantify their environmental savings by tracking metrics like reduced paper usage, lowered printing costs, and decreased transportation emissions. Setting sustainability goals and monitoring progress through hybrid programs is key. For example, a theater company may target a 50% reduction in paper usage and use digital analytics to measure engagement with online programs. Significant measurable gains can be used to promote the organization’s commitment to sustainability.
Challenges and Considerations
Shifting long-entrenched behaviors around printed programs can be challenging. Some patrons may resist going digital. Effective change management and consistent communication about sustainability goals are essential. It takes time to measure demand and get the hybrid model right, so organizations must start gradually and be prepared to adjust. But the improvements in sustainability make this a change worth pursuing.
Conclusion – Choosing the Right Digital Program Book Platform
Hybrid solutions meet traditional patron expectations while allowing arts organizations to significantly decrease their environmental footprints. This innovative strategy enables the arts and culture sector to deliver on its mission while operating sustainably. Although the transition requires some effort and process adjustments, hybrid program books provide a promising path forward – one that other sustainability-minded industries can certainly learn from as well.
For performing arts organizations looking to implement digital and print program books, Audience Access offers full-service solutions for digital and limited-run printed program books as well as a custom dashboard to measure your organizations impact on the environment. Let’s start a conversation about how to make sustainability a reality with your arts organization today with Audience Access.