COVID-19 brought the performing arts sector to its collective knees. Rather than experiencing a highly anticipated 20/21 season we all planned, we felt the impact of a virus that shuttered our theaters, isolated our audiences and strangled the talents of millions of performers worldwide.

Next to the tourism sector, the cultural and creative sectors were the most damaged by the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s been a long road for so many artists, organizations, and the audiences who support them. 

Finally, as 2020 drew to a close, the advent and distribution of new vaccines gave us a light at the end of the tunnel. A light so bright that many international superstars like England’s Sir Elton John, Canada’s pop king Justin Bieber and South Africa’s sensational rap-rave fusion performers Die Antwoord are booking live shows to start mid-year stateside. 

This is terrific news for the performers, stage crews and administrative experts that make the performing arts happen. And it’s great news for audiences, too. Everyone is eager to socialize and enjoy performing arts post-Covid!

The pandemic has taught us some new habits, though, and audiences will be reluctant to break them.

Audiences & The Arts: Behaviors We’ll See Post-Covid

Even come a time of widespread vaccinations and potential herd immunity, your patrons will have COVID-19 safety habits well-ingrained.

Plainly put, social habits have changed. A casual handshake or hug in the lobby during a matinée in 2019 will be awkwardly avoided by reluctant parties post-Covid. And the formal baise-main — the kissing of a lady’s hand at a formal gathering, a tradition nearly lost in the US anyhow — is likely gone forever.

Come the new season, attendees are likely to be hyper-aware of health issues and closely aware of hand hygiene. 

What are savvy organizations doing to prepare for this unusual season, you ask?

Changes Coming to Performing Arts Marketing

Digital marketing and digital program books will be hotter than ever this season, but some long-time arts patrons will always prefer a hard copy they can cherish as a memento. As the season plays out and things normalize further, a tangible program book may become a part of the overall audience experience.

This puts marketers in a tight spot. Budgets are FAR tighter than usual post-pandemic. How can they afford both digital media and print program books on a bare-bones budget? Especially when smaller runs can equal higher cost-per-copy, and tougher to sell advertising in.

How Arts Marketers can Plan for Post-Covid

Every performing arts organization — and every venue they call home — will have a different approach this year. Most arts marketers will face a balancing act between budget, reach, and the benefits of targeted advertising that comes from association with the arts.

Ultimately, it’s going to be a time of creativity and invention in our sector, and the team at Onstage looks forward to hearing about all the creative solutions you implement this year, and as always, our digital program book solution, Audience Access is here for your program book needs.

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