Reflections from participating organisations

In response to our report which looked at the findings from the first three weeks (16 April - 6 May) of After the Interval, we asked some of the participating organisations to share their thoughts on the results:

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"This report has proven incredibly useful and I applaud Indigo for taking the initiative in such a wide ranging and swift approach.  It gives us some interesting insights which we at Derby Theatre will take forward into our planning.

"It confirms our fears that it may be some time before audiences are ready to return to venues in large numbers in a sustainable way and so I hope the right support packages are put in place for the sector's sustainability  because it also confirms  that the buzz of a live event is irreplaceable. An intrinsic desire of our communities is clearly to come together, face to face, to tell stories and share experiences and as theatres we provide this vital service to the community.

"So whilst it is worrying that this epidemic will in the short-term mean our audiences are considering staying away, it is clear that they will return eventually and we just need to hold our nerve and support the whole artistic ecology so that we are ready to play that crucial role when they need us to."

Sarah Brigham
Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Derby Theatre

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"Mapping audience opinion is a really important part of trying to understand how venues will need to adapt to cope with future crowd restrictions. Our Bristol audiences are telling us very strongly that they deeply miss engagement with live music so we need all the information we can get to make it possible to work towards bringing it back."

Louise Mitchell
Chief Executive, Bristol Music Trust

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“It’s really heartening to see that so many people are missing going to events and performances, and we miss them too! The future of our industry depends on welcoming people through our doors as soon as is safely possible. We’ve told our audience at the Octagon that with their support, we will be back - and people have been generous in standing by us.

"So whilst there is no clear date for when theatres will re-open, this survey is really helping us to plan ahead with measures such as cutting down queues and really flexible booking options. The industry faces an unprecedented challenge and we're all working hard so that people will feel confident and safe to have a great night out once again.”

Roddy Gauld
Chief Executive, Octagon Theatre Bolton

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“The reality of this situation is that we can’t expect our audiences to behave the way they did before. This questionnaire is vital in helping us forecast what undoubtably be a challenging future. It will help us take steps to mitigate the barriers our communities may feel are keeping them from the art they love.”

Deborah Kermode
Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Midlands Arts Centre

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“Since we closed our doors on 17 March, we have been streaming concerts from artists’ homes and seen how essential culture is in people’s lives during lockdown. But we don’t exist to facilitate artists streaming from their sitting rooms, we exist to welcome people to our wonderful hall, and for them to share the magical experience of live performance.

"Indigo’s study is an essential tool to help us to understand how we can welcome audiences back when we reopen our doors, make sure they feel safe, and secure our future.”

Louise Halliday
Director of External Affairs, Royal Albert Hall

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“At City of London Sinfonia our response to the ‘new normal’ is to radically change the way we think about venues and performance models, particularly as the live, in-person interaction that happens in concert will be even more necessary as we emerge from lockdown.

"We are talking to venues and planning concerts where safe distancing and audience movement is a feature of the event, avoiding issues with traditional seating or packed standing venues, but in a way that brings audiences and musicians closer together in a shared space. It’s a way of performing that has already drawn in new audiences to our orchestra and energises our musicians, and we hope will restore confidence to existing audiences.”

Matthew Swann
Chief Executive, City of London Sinfonia

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“While sobering in many ways, this research has been critical in helping us to develop scenarios for reopening our building to the public. At such a challenging time for cultural buildings, it incredibly heartening to see how valued the arts our in the lives of our audience. We will continue to deliver our mission during this extraordinary time, while we explore new measures to enable us to open our doors with great cinema, art and live performance in a safe, welcoming environment. It is vital that we continue this dialogue with audiences at every stage of this process.”

Jon Gilchrist
Executive Director, HOME

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"We have found this research absolutely invaluable to our planning in very precarious times. But, in addition, the immensely strong message from audiences is that they really, really miss Nottingham Playhouse and can't wait to return to us when it is safe to do so.

"So, it has also been a useful exercise in celebrating what we stand for and what we mean to people. A much-needed boost."

Stephanie Sirr
Chief Executive, Nottingham Playhouse

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“After the Interval has proved an invaluable resource to venues like The Lowry as we begin to navigate the path to re-opening. It’s heartening to hear our audiences are missing the arts as much as we’re missing sharing great work with them – but we also recognise and understand their concerns in returning to venues too soon.

"The Lowry, along with our peers across the UK arts sector is working hard to ensure our venues are safe and it will be interesting to see how the public responds to these changes in the coming weeks and months.”

Julia Fawcett OBE
Chief Executive, The Lowry

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“It comes as no surprise that audiences across the country are missing the thrill and the spiritual nourishment that only live performances can provide. At the CBSO we cannot wait to be back in Symphony Hall providing great music to the people of Birmingham as we had been doing for almost exactly 100 years until this March. 

"We are now planning how and when we might return, with a number of different scenarios depending on many different factors including the progression of the disease as well as the availability of testing and vaccines. But possibly the most important element is going to be the attitude and behaviour of audiences, and that is why this research by Indigo is both so useful and so important.”

Stephen Maddock OBE
Chief Executive, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

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"This report not only gives us crucial insight, but puts a spotlight on the purpose of the sector - we're here to serve our audiences, so their concerns and hopes should be at the centre of our thinking and planning as we navigate this unprecedented time. As a charity that's dependent on theatres of every shape, size and sort, but which doesn't own or occupy an arts venue, this data gives us hugely important insight to reprogramme and replan.

"Only then can we ensure that not only audiences of 2020, but children - the performers and audiences of the future - will have a sector fit for purpose that's giving them the cultural experiences to help them live life to the full."

Ruth Brock
Chief Executive, Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation