There’s a potential titanic shift looming for bricks and mortar arts and culture and, like in many business sectors, Covid-19 has been the curtain-raising exponent of that shift. And the clear message to the creative sector is, innovate your IP delivery channels or cede ownership of your audience.
One only needs to look at the current digital disruption in the film industry as a powerful bell-weather warning.
But first, let me go back and bring some context to this debate.
Through the timely and targeted support of Creative Partnerships Australia we have managed to interview a broad sweep of arts & cultural organisations across Australia over the last few weeks in preparation for strategic support and professional development to aid revenue recovery.
Understandable common threads in those interviews have been how organisations are impacted by revenue devastation and staff disruption, but the most compelling feature is how adaptive, ingenious, creative and entrepreneurial some have been.
It is this point that resonates most loudly to us, for good and ominous reasons.
On the positive side, for example, the small to medium arts companies opening out their offering through digital platforms, accessing audiences in numbers previously only dreamt of; or organisations quickly building narrowcasting skills and networks; or partners being offered new assets, built in a flash, to reach mutual audiences. These are all admirable examples of an adaptive sector working magic under incredible pressure.
But here’s the catch.
Covid-19 has exposed a massive audience to capture at home and if ignored Arts brands may well hand over vital margin and/or control of audiences to 3rd parties… let’s call it Uber Arts!
Scoff at this at your peril. I’m old school, I always loved going out for dinner and couldn’t relate to those younger generations sitting on the couch, ordering Uber Eats, missing the whole dining-out experience. I’m also an ex restaurateur so I understand margins and how disruptive this eat-in phenomenon has been for the hospitality sector.
But since Covid-19 we now order our favourite Vietnamese in every Saturday night.
The near future may be vastly different from the near history. People will have choice. Generations will choose differently. Do I go to the theatre or do I sit at home and watch Lloyd-Webber stream Jesus Christ Superstar on YouTube for free? Do I attend my local dance class, or do I stream At the Barre with… from New York City Ballet?
Times are changing, in fact, have changed already.
We think there’s likely to be 3 groups emerging from the mist in the creative sector:
For us, the writing is on the wall. Clear evidence resides in the hospitality industry and now in the film sector. Innovate your IP delivery channels or cede ownership of your current audience and any aspirations around growth.
It’s as simple as that.
Author: Bruce McKaskill, MAICD, is a Founding Partner at Fit Brand & Partnerships, Australia's leading independent brand and partnership growth consultancy serving rights holders in the arts, community, associations and Government services sectors.