Covid Creativity – Stay Tuned

The greatly increased use of digital technologies in our personal and work lives has likewise been adopted by many in the arts and culture sector, making the arts more accessible and creating new income streams. As in other businesses, adversity has been the mother of invention, with the arts sector shifting from analogue to digital to create opportunities to attract and engage new audiences, providing previously unimagined accessibility for existing and new patrons.

Cultural organisations like Australian Theatre Live for instance, report that the level of emotional involvement and engagement in digital formats has been overwhelmingly endorsed by audiences during its program of live streaming movies and live performances. So too, the Art Gallery of NSW has been attracting large audiences through video and interactive involvement between artists in their studios with audiences able to interact with them and view the gallery’s works as never before.

Interactive tools like Zoom is enabling people in remote locations around the country to participate in discussions and enjoy visual art and performance from their homes during Covid lockdowns and travel bans. The use of multiple formats allows audiences to explore this important aspect of our lives in ways not tried before – with unexpected success. Social channels like You Tube, Facebook and Instagram are enabling interaction and enjoyment, providing a new connectivity between artists and audiences, allowing many institutions to emerge from black out during Covid and attract new audiences.

For instance the Art Gallery of NSW now uses social media channels as their new virtual front door, meeting and greeting customers, many of whom were previously unable to visit the gallery in person due to time, distance or financial constraints. Contrary to previous attitudes to the digital world, AGNSW has shown it can welcome and engage patrons with the same heart and soul previously reserved for in-person visitation, ensuring their focus on engaging with patrons.

Digitisation has also opened up new income streams, both with new audiences and in attracting sponsorship dollars. Australian Theatre Live has just negotiated an additional revenue stream through a season of streaming new films, attracting a younger audience not accustomed to attending theatres and other traditional ‘big venue’ events. This allows the younger audience to message and chat online, reviewing and recommending films to friends.

This new world of online art is not being viewed as simply a way to get through Covid, it is the way of the present and the future, engaging a broader audience both demographically and geographically as organisations and individual artists experiment in ways not imagined prior to Covid. The industry had been operating in silos where collaboration and trying something new was not common practice. Digital exploration is fast becoming the norm – proving both financially and socially beneficial.

This includes institutions and venues getting involved in being the actual distributors of artistic content, setting up their own Youtube style channels that generate advertising revenue and sponsorship income, rather than relying on traditional distribution models of television and theatres and other venues. The online model has also shown it can enhance the shared human experience, engagement and enjoyment of audiences, intrinsically essential to the arts experience. Stay tuned for more digital content, composition, and channels.

Sydney Business Chamber held an online forum with Angela Clark, Non-Executive Director, Sydney Festival, Grant Dodwell, Creative Director, Australian Theatre Live, and Justin Paton, Head Curator, International Art, Art Gallery of NSW on 23 September 2020. Hear more in the podcast and video.

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