6 Ways Museums & Cultural Art Centers Can Thrive During the Pandemic

With cases of COVID-19 rapidly climbing around the country, the venue-based arts and cultural sector is bracing for the impact. Comprising museums, zoos, botanical gardens, performing arts centers, etc., they are some of the hardest-hit sectors early in the pandemic. Many venues temporarily closed while others are slow to reopen, but the industry still faces pressing challenges in the months ahead. 

Culture & art centers are vital to our communities. They are anchor institutions and community hubs that increase the appeal of the cities they are located in. As you know, these venues already have tight budget constraints and must adapt and rethink new ways to engage with their audiences in a socially distanced—and financially sound—manner. Thankfully, we live in a digital-obsessed society with countless technology platforms that allow these venues to meaningfully engage with people through their screens. 

With audiences finding more time to learn and explore digitally due to the increased amount of time spent at home, the opportunity is clear—investing to meet the new needs and demands of the public is critical. 

We recommend six strategic ways venues in this industry can still offer their services while increasing revenues and staying relevant during this unprecedented time. 

  1. Enhance digital marketing. Now is not the time to take a break from marketing. More than ever, companies in every industry have to stay top of mind to their customers and work hard to stand out from their competitors. By thinking outside the box and offering unique programming to meet the needs of customers,   cultural and art centers can not only survive the pandemic but build long-lasting loyal relationships with their customer base. By taking extra steps to ensure customers’ needs are met, these brands can not only score points with existing customers but can benefit from the word of mouth and positive PR these opportunities can bring. There is no better, more efficient, or measurable way to stay connected to your customer base than with digital marketing.   

  1. Create a marketing playbook. Before an organization can embark on a new digital marketing and reopening effort, it must have a clear strategic roadmap. We know from experience that sustaining a venue during a temporary closing and reopening it again to the public takes a lot of planning. We did just that for Lucky Strike, the popular bowling and entertainment venue. During the beginning of the pandemic, when businesses were forced to close, we developed an interim digital marketing strategy for their brand. As we rolled out the interim plan, we were hard at work in the background creating a new robust digital marketing strategy that will carry Lucky Strike well beyond the pandemic. 

  1. Don’t forget about the employees. Obviously, a huge part of helping Lucky Strike reopen their venues was organizing the new operating standards and safety protocols and then clearly communicating them to the employees. In addition to a marketing playbook, we developed a reopening playbook that was designed in the new Lucky Strike brand we developed for them and included every operations document that employees would need to safely reopen and protect themselves and the public. We also created and delivered new safety signage for the venues as well as a Lucky Strike mask and employee t-shirt design. 

  1. Provide virtual tours. Now more than ever, there are a variety of tools for customers to virtually experience a venue. Gone are the days of photo slideshows and grainy video. Now, drones and sophisticated digital cameras can capture high definition and even panoramic video that’s as close to real-life as possible. By offering virtual tours on these venue’s websites, these brands can capitalize on having a captive audience of not only people in the immediate area but those who live out of town as well. These tours can be live or pre-recorded—whatever option works best for the venue and budget. 

  1. Host online panels or guest speakers. Many of these venues host well-known artists, speakers, and other influential experts at special events throughout the year. But just because a venue may be temporarily closed or is unable to host a crowd, the same events can translate to a digital platform. Zoom, Google Meet, and even Facebook offer live video streaming with the ability for attendees to engage with the speaker, just as they would in-person. Our team is experienced in helping to plan and execute events using advanced online technology and can map out a strategy to make your event as successful and well-attended as possible. 

  1. Rethink holiday programming. Many of these cultural and arts centers offer specialized holiday programming that is a large source of revenue each year. Without annual holiday-themed shows and exhibits, seasonal decor, and other special events, the bottom line will take a hard hit. But by moving this programming to a digital platform, such as online tours, live broadcasts, and even drive-through events, these venues can salvage the year and set their organization’s up for success in 2021.

Given our experience working with clients such as the Dallas Arboretum, Klyde Warren Park, and Great Parks of Hamilton County, we are uniquely positioned to help your organization reimagine what is possible and guide you to the next iteration of what your venue will look like in response to the pandemic crisis.

Notes/Citations: OECD.org, 2020, Accessed 5 October 2020, <https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/culture-shock-covid-19-and-the-cultural-and-creative-sectors-08da9e0e/>