Crafting Safe Cultural Experiences in Uncertain Times

If your cultural group or organization is re-opening it is important to ensure that your audiences know they will be as safe as possible from the COVID-19 virus.

Audiences are still cautious about returning to in-person programming, especially for events that will have a large audience in attendance. According to a recent poll conducted by Nanos Research, 87% of people who live in the Prairies believe that a second-wave of COVID-19 infections is likely to occur. The same poll saw 63% of Prairie respondents say they would support closing non-essential businesses again in the event of increased cases.

You would do well to keep the mindset of your audience front and center when you look at what types of programming to offer over the coming months.

The silver lining is that while Canadians are hesitant to return to in-person programming, their demand for virtual and digital online experiences is growing. The Arts Response Tracking Study (ARTS) found that half of Canadian culture-goers are turning to digital experiences in response to the pandemic. While in-person events and programs are becoming difficult to plan, the demand for programming to continue in online formats shows the opportunity organizations have to continue their programs in new and innovative ways. From live-streaming concerts to walkthrough museum tours, the potential for digital programming is nearly unlimited.

Organizations can also look into offering hybrid events that contain an in-person experience for those comfortable attending, while also offering a digital experience for those who are not yet ready to return to in-person events. Some ways to make this work include:

  • Making Appointments – Some organizations, such as museums, are moving forward with appointment scheduling as a way to control in-person audiences. Much like a haircut or a doctor’s appointment, visitors contact your organization and schedule a time to arrive in-person and spend time with your programming. Visitors should be restricted to a set time-limit to ensure appointments are kept aligned with bookings.
  • Ensuring Outdoor Distancing – Some concert series are turning to using ‘drive-in’ style programming as a way of letting people come together, while also ensuring physical distancing. By holding an event outside, and allowing people to drive up and remain in their vehicles, organizations are finding success in hosting physical events while keeping people safe.
  • Promoting your Safety Guidelines  – While you will ensure that your programming is following the current guidelines as promoted by the public health authority; from crowd sizes to physical distancing requirements; and providing access to hand sanitizer or hand washing stations for attendees, it is important to promote the safety precautions available at your venue.  Your participant will appreciate knowing the actions you are taking the expectations, such as if masks are needed, before they arrive.

While these are just a few suggestions, organizations are able to tailor their programming for their audiences and their organizations. Uncertainty can make planning an event or program seem extra stressful, but it can also an opportunity to be creative and find new ways of connecting with your audiences.