By TRG Arts
Results of a study released by international arts management consultants TRG Arts reveal that of its clients surveyed across three countries, U.S. performing arts organizations have the most optimistic outlook. The new study, “Arts and Culture 2020 Comeback,” finds 63 percent of U.S. venues are planning an autumn return, compared to 54 percent of clients overall surveyed in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom who are planning to return to performances by the end of 2020 after shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Delivery method and specifics for returning to performance are highly variable, and will rely on national and local guidance, the study shows. A mix of socially distanced live performance, open-air live performances, live streamed performances, and recorded delivery options are being contemplated by clients.
Among the genres, dance and multi-disciplinary organizations are the most optimistic with dance’s optimism likely fueled by the requirement for Nutcracker revenues to bring stability to the balance of the 2020-21 season. TRG U.S. client expectations for returning in 2020 by genre are:
• Multi-genre/PACs 100%
• Dance 86%
• Orchestra 57%
• Presenter 57%
• Opera 50%
• Theatre 50%
Surprisingly, the study finds that U.S. coastal regions, the hardest and earliest impacted by COVID-19 and the resulting shutdowns, are also the most optimistic for an autumn return. Midwestern clients are the least optimistic, a majority of whom are planning for a January 2021 return. TRG U.S. client expectations for returning in 2020 by region are:
• South 100%
• Southeast 75%
• Northeast 71%
• West 55%
• Midwest 38%
“At TRG Arts, we are committed to listening to arts and cultural leaders, and helping them contextualize their local experiences with our global perspective,” said TRG Chief Executive Officer Jill Robinson. “I’m so encouraged that venues are focusing on when they will reopen, and we emphasize the importance of focusing also on with whom we will convene. The pause in performing now is an opportunity for leaders to recommit to their work in ensuring that equality, diversity and inclusion are central to their reopening plans.”
Additional U.K., Canada and Overall Results
The study also examines TRG clients’ current “Plan A” and “Plan B” scenarios across all disciplines of performing arts in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Fifty-four percent of all clients report their “Plan A” for reopening will occur between August and December 2020, with one-third planning a traditional September season start. Of those planning a return in 2020, only 19 percent plan to wait until December to perform.
Fifty percent of clients do not have a solidified “Plan B,” with most approaching secondary scenario planning from the perspective of delaying opening decisions month-by-month. “If it’s not Month A, then it’s Month A+1” is a frequent client sentiment. Of those clients who do have an articulated “Plan B,” fully half plan to perform in Q1 of 2021.
If already not performing, as in the case of Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Scotland, 50 percent of U.K. clients are planning a return to the stage in January 2021. Only 25 percent expect to be performing pantos in December 2020.
Canadian clients’ return plans bridge British restraint and American buoyancy. Only 44 percent of clients expect to perform in autumn 2020, with a majority planning a return in January 2021.
The full study of “Arts and Culture 2020 Comeback” is available here.
By R.V. Baugus
The Australia Football League (AFL) held its first match last weekend as the country’s first major sporting event since the COVID-19 pandemic began between Port Adelaide and the Adelaide Crows.
Rules on social gatherings meant that the 40,000-seat stadium was able to welcome a “sell-out” crowd of 2,240. Two thousand fans were seated 1.5 meters apart in the stands, with a further 240 guests watching in function rooms across the Oval’s three stands.
The match effectively served as a pilot case for the national Cabinet’s push to reopen stadiums across Australia, and the event was deemed a success.
“We had fantastic support from our patrons for the way in which they cooperated with our people and observed all the protocols we had in place,” said Andrew Daniels, Adelaide Oval chief executive. “There was a great mood the whole night; people were just excited to be back at the footy and our staff loved having them back. For such a comparatively small crowd, there was an incredible atmosphere from the first bounce until the final siren.
“We are very pleased with how our detailed planning played out. We will undertake a full review this week and there will likely be some fine tuning, but we think Adelaide Oval has helped create systems that will give confidence to those making decisions around escalating the return of crowds.”
Thousands of fans celebrated their return to stadiums as New Zealand held its first top-level rugby match after the coronavirus lockdown. This week, the authorities said there were no active cases left in the country.
More than 20,000 rugby fans packed into the stands at a stadium in southern New Zealand on Saturday, June 13, after the country reopened its sports venues and lifted its months-long lockdown.
With authorities in the city of Dunedin confident of their victory over the coronavirus, fans were not required to wear masks or follow social distancing rules.
“It’s massive,” said the country’s sports minister, Grant Robertson, pointing out that the Saturday match was “the world’s first” professional rugby game since pandemic spread across the globe.
He added that attending the game was “a payoff for all the hard work of 5 million New Zealanders.”
Rugby Union is New Zealand’s dominant sport, with the national men’s team, the “All Blacks” and the national women’s team, the “Black Ferns” the world’s number two and one respectively.
German exchange student Johanna Linder said she had never seen a rugby match before, but described the event as a chance to “lift the people’s mood” and bring New Zealand together.
“It’s a great opportunity to socialize again,” she said, adding that people in Germany might be bit envious of the stadium crowds.
The rugby match saw Otago Highlanders claim a 28-27 victory over Waikato Chiefs.
Germany, like most other countries, still maintains strict restrictions on top-level sporting events. While Germany’s top level Bundesliga teams returned to stadiums some four weeks ago, the fans are still banned from attending the games for fear of spreading the coronavirus. In turn, New Zealand lifted its lockdown earlier this week, with only some restrictions on entering the isolated country still in force.
The island nation of some 5 million people has seen around 1,500 infections and 22 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The authorities believe no coronavirus cases are still active in the country.
Observers believe the officials’ success in eliminating the disease was a combination of speedy and efficient lockdown measures, clear communication, effective testing, the government’s adherence to the rules, and New Zealand’s remote position.
Deutsche Welle (DW) is Germany’s international broadcaster and one of the most successful and relevant international media outlets. Photo by Populous.
Good news to share on the advocacy front – after reading the note below, please take a moment to tweet out one, two, or three of the suggested tweets and encourage your staff, family, and friends to do the same. We are working to bring awareness of the needs of our publicly created venues and members to Senators.
Last Thursday night, Senator John Boozman and 17 of his Senate colleagues sent a bipartisan letter to Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer asking that government-owned public assembly venues be allowed to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Thank you for your hard work to recruit the Senate signatures. This is a key part of IAVM’s campaign to ensure that these venues gain access to federal funding. We attached the letter that Senator Boozman sent so you can see if your Senator(s) signed on to the letter. If they didn’t, please see tweet #3 below.
The Senate is currently discussing the next COVID-19 package to be taken up next month. This is the time for Senators to make a personal appeal to Senators Rubio, Cardin, McConnell and Schumer that they address publicly-owned venues in the next package.
And please don’t forget to use social media to show your gratitude to your Senators as well as Senator Boozman. Here is a sample tweet for you to consider tailoring for your use along with a graphic. You can also add your senators’ handles as well. Please note that images usually assist in getting more views that just text. CLICK HERE for the twitter handles for Senators.
Thank you @JohnBoozman for leading the senate effort to include Public Venues in the #Paycheckprotectionprogram !!! We are making progress! #saveourvenues #PPP https://tinyurl.com/ybastrsr
Tweet #2 (Retweet of First Tweet or by itself)
Please help #saveourvenues, @senatemajldr @marcorubio @SenatorCardin @SenSchumer, venues that small & large help serve as Economic Force Multipliers to restaurants, hotels, & retail stores in communities across the US !!! https://tinyurl.com/ybastrsr
Tweet #3 (for those venues/members whose Senators did not sign on to the letter)
@senator….help #saveourvenues by supporting the growing list of Senators in favor of including Public Venues in the Paycheckprotectionprogram #PPP https://tinyurl.com/ybastrsr
Tammy Koolbeck, CVE
IAVM Chair of the Board
By R.V. Baugus
While much of 2020 has come to a standstill of sorts, Ungerboeck Software International remains as busy as ever. As we approach the halfway point of the year (finally!), Ungerboeck has plenty to be excited about the remaining six months as the company is making free for customers on-demand and instructor-led training that will propel students toward various levels of certification. We had a nice visit with company President and CEO Manish Chandak to shed more light on the training program and other important business items as venues and the industry continue working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s start by finding out more about the training options you have available.
We have three main areas. We have on-demand learning, instructor learning, and certification. It starts with learning. Ungerboeck customers can receive the on-demand training for free through the end of 2020. This has been up for only about two months and we already have 5,000 learners on it. These courses are more designed for end users and for functional users. Say my job in the venue is to sell the space. How do I do that? You can take courses in the learning center based on selling the venue. Or my job is to do billing or event planning.
Those things are really, really important and so what happens in the learning center is you have a menu of what courses you can take and how you take them. You can then start a learning path that remembers where you are and the course you are taking. Most of these courses are short and about 20 minutes. You take a little quiz after it and proceed to the next course and so on.
Why is this important at this point in time?
What you are seeing right now is practically everybody is nervous about their jobs. Everybody is sort of stuck at home. People want to do something that elevates their skills. This has matched up really perfectly in the time of COVID. We’ve seen so many people now coming in and taking courses.
Technology is crucial. We can’t say I don’t know how to use that. It’s no longer an acceptable answer. You might have a job in a venue where most of the time you’re on your feet and walking around. Even then, you still can’t say I don’t get technology. That’s just not acceptable anymore. This answers that issue as people can come in here and learn on their own time at their own pace.
Some people believe they really never got a chance to learn properly or never really got an opportunity to learn on my own. I never really had time because I was running from one event to another. Now, I have a chance to do all that. After learning, it’s like, oh, it wasn’t really complicated but now I feel good about it.
In a time of job uncertainty, how important is it to know as many skills as possible?
If I have my next career in mind, I want to go learn something. Sometimes, also, you may be pigeon-holed in one job. Nope, you are events, you can never go do sales or operations or whatever. Here, you might take a few courses on operations and think, I totally get this. I never really had a chance to explore what the operations people do or how to cut invoices. I never really had a chance to learn that. I always thought it was something I couldn’t do.
What are the various pieces of the on-demand training?
It is literally learning on your own time. One thing we also did during the COVID period when nobody has a budget is to make the online learning free for everybody through the end of the year. If you are furloughed, if you are not working for a venue or whatever, you can come and learn. We don’t want to put any barriers to learning right now. The other thing we did is internally, we put a lot of our resources to learning. We think this is a priority for the company right now. We need to produce amazing content.
We have instructional designers on our staff that are not software experts, but experts in helping to teach and learn. How to break things in smaller chunks. How to do quizzes. They are the ones who design these courses. They are very, very high quality. That’s really important.
We break these levels into associate and professional and into sales and operations. We have sales associate and sales professional, and operations associate and operations professional. We have the administrator test which is the third level but we haven’t put it out there because those you have to take it in person. We will release it when people can be in person.
Examples might be, I am an associate, I enter data on a day to day basis. Then you have the professional level, where you are actually quite good at it and can help others. This is a higher level of tests. Then a level above it is the administrator level.
How about instructor-led learning?
This is a little bit different. Here, what happens is you have an instructor with you. You actually do things in the environment and the instructor can walk through it with you or can help you with your exercises. You actually have to do things with real software as if you are running a real venue.
So, you have the on-demand learning and you have the instructor learning. Then you have the certification so this is the important part. The certification differentiates and validates that you actually learned something and you’re really good at it with good proficiency.
You go through your training with flying colors. What is the reward in the end?
We have 20 people associate level certified, about eight that are professional level, and maybe two or three at the administrator level. If you really want to make software your career you want to get to the administrator level. Today, if you are going to be Ungerboeck administrator certified in the events industry, you can command a pretty darn good salary.
If someone is hiring and wants to know how well you know technology, you can say that you are an Ungerboeck certified professional. Even if they’re not using our software, it will still tell the hiring manager, OK, if he got certified at the professional level, he can probably learn any other software very quickly. The basic concepts of venue management and how we do that in software doesn’t fundamentally change.
How new is the certification program?
It is brand new. We’re launching it literally right now. We wanted to make sure there are ample learning avenues for people before we put a certification value on it. We probably have close to 75 to 100 courses there now. Courses with quizzes and things like that. Depending on your path, if you’re on the finance side or the exhibition side, there’s a customized way for you to learn.
Does this fill a gap in technology training?
It’s one thing to have concepts down, but it’s another thing to implement it in the software where you can make the life of your managers easier. The execution part of all of these concepts rely on putting all these things together properly in the system and making sure you’re tweaking the system to optimize your business results.
You may have a great concept about how to do something but can’t implement it across your entire venue’s processes. Or the understanding of the tools, where you don’t know how to do it. Technology for non-technical people can be complex. Managers who run the venues themselves are not necessarily equipped to help these people.
Leadership is under tremendous pressure. Then you are telling them you need to go through this transformation. Most leadership has been born in a world where digital wasn’t so important. Now they’re under tremendous pressure. Ask your teams to go through these courses. These courses not only teach the technology, they also teach them best practices of how to do it efficiently with the technology. You don’t want somebody spending hours and hours a day figuring out something when honestly the training would make it much, much faster.
One of the biggest issues people have with technology is the frustration. It would be really good if you took training because then you wouldn’t be so frustrated.
Where does all this go from here?
For us, being part of the industry and being a sponsor of the Association and things like that, yes, it may seem self-serving getting people to learn our software, but at the same time I also feel like as an industry IAVM is trying so hard to educate everybody that this component hopefully helps people who come along on the technology side. This was a change because when this crisis first hit, we were like, what is going to happen to our business? Everybody went through that period where it felt like the sky is falling. It probably still does, sometimes. It can be a catalyst for something you want to do but never had a chance to do it.
This month is our 35th anniversary. There were many times like this with the dot.com bust, this crisis and that crisis and all kind of things happening. The Gulf War in the middle of it. For us every time something happens like this, yeah, we had a period where we thought everything was going to go to hell and then everybody found a way out and we’re all still doing things and events are still happening, maybe different, but they’re still happening.
For more about learning options, click here.