Getting the lights back on: is the re-start of Culture about to stop before it starts?

Close up of a lightbulb.

Back in April, Indigo launched a survey tool free to the cultural sector – After the Interval– to help cultural organisations understand how audiences were feeling since they closed their doors in March, and how they felt about returning. This survey, and its ‘sequel’ Act 2, had much more response from the sector than we’d anticipated – and was clearly something needed by the sector, and we were fortunate to be able to deliver quickly. Both surveys showed overwhelming support from audiences for the sector, a desire to get back to live performance, but also some clear messages around their safety concerns, both for themselves, and for performers and artists.

The dataset we collectively created, with the support of over 500 organisations and over 200K audience members, has been used to lobby government, to inform business planning, and help guide communications for re-opening. We’ve also had versions of the survey running in two other EU countries – Italy and Ireland - and have developed parallel Covid insight projects in the West Midlands, for Outdoor Arts, the Family Arts Alliance and UK Sport.

So what does the cultural sector need now?

But even though some cultural organisations are beginning to open up, with talk of more regional and possibly national lockdowns, and much uncertainty in the months ahead, we want to continue supporting the sector through the next phase. Some organisations are already welcoming live audiences through their doors, but may have to close them again suddenly, whilst others may be still months away from being able to reopen fully. 

We need to continue to build relationships with audiences, even if we have little to share with them, and to continue to ensure that their voices are heard and placed at the centre of our future planning. And we need to understand whether their first tentative steps back into venues will increase their confidence to the extent that they can immerse themselves once again.

It’s time to work together

At Indigo we’ve learned over the last few months that so much more can be achieved when we all work together towards a collective goal. Our friends at Baker Richards and OneFurther have supported us so far by adding insight to the data we’ve collected through After the Interval and Act 2 – and now together we’ve partnered up to form the Insights Alliance: a collaboration that brings together our collective resources and skills to deliver the best tools for the sector. 

We’ve also developed a collaboration with The Audience Agency, to ensure that all our research can be aligned with Audience Spectrum.

Today – together – we’re launching the Culture Restart Toolkit, which will run for at least the next 6 months, will be free for cultural organisations to use, and is applicable to organisations who are re-opening, as well as those who are still, sadly, closed. We’ve made it as simple to use as possible, to allow for organisations with limited staffing.

As before, all the data collected through the toolkit will be made available to participating organisations to aid their own planning, as well as aggregated into a national picture that can be used to influence policy and decision making nationally.

Please get involved and spread the word

Find out more about the Culture Restart Toolkit →

Katy Raines
Founder & CEO

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