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.