In her blog post “What Will Make People Feel Safe Attending a Cultural Entity Again?” Colleen Dilenschneider listed some of the factors that will make people feel comfortable visiting cultural organizations in a post-COVID-19 world. Colleen surfaces several insights that are out of the control of arts organizations, such as the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine and the government lifting travel, movement and access restrictions.
But there are some things that arts and cultural organizations can start executing now to prepare for re-opening, like making hand sanitizer readily available and revising and publishing cleaning and sanitizing procedures. Colleen’s blog post is based on a survey conducted by IMPACTS Research and includes data points that inspired these additional ways to make patrons feel safe and comfortable returning to arts organizations.
1. Spread out entrance times and limit the number of people you let in
The data shows that limits on crowds and limiting long lines of people is important to approximately 20% of those surveyed. Zoos, aquariums, museums and gardens can look at their online ticket sales process. Consider specific entrance times for ticket sales and lowering the maximum number of people you allow into your organization, at least for the first little while when you reopen.
2. Expand summer camp offerings and build in outdoor activities
When shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted, there are many parents who will be going back to work and needing to find summer camps for their kids. Consider expanding your summer camp program offerings and setting up online camp registration. The data shows that just less than 50% of survey respondents said the ability to be outside will make them more comfortable. Look for ways to build outdoor activities into your camp programs, like nature walks and outdoor classroom formats.
3. Plan an opening event with social media opportunities
Consider making a big deal about your reopening. Invite your members and donors, those most loyal to your organization, to come in on the first day. Just under 60% of those surveyed by IMPACTS indicated that seeing others visit arts and cultural organizations will make them feel more comfortable visiting. Give your members and donors fun ways to post on social media when they’re at your organization. Think about setting up vignettes and signs around your organization to encourage social posting. These can be simple but effective: a welcome back sign in front of your building, or a few fun and bright pop–up banners inside.
The good news is the data shows that 32% of people said they trust cultural organizations, and just the decision to reopen will make people feel safer. We are in new territory, but arts and cultural institutions are important to humanity and that’s not going to change. Stay true to your mission, connect and build even stronger relationships with your supporters, and look for ways to make your visitors feel safe and comfortable coming back.