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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

THE SCOOP | New Report Shows How Arts Organizations Are Coping With COVID Realities

By Anya Wassenberg on December 13, 2021

Canadian Opera Company - Joey and Toby Tannenbaum Centre (Photo: GTD Aquitaine)
Canadian Opera Company – Joey and Toby Tannenbaum Centre (Photo: GTD Aquitaine)

A new report offers insight into how North American arts organizations are adapting to the rapidly changing performance environment of the last couple of years.

MogoARTS Marketing, a digital marketing company with a client list that includes the Stratford Festival, Boston Ballet, and The 5th Avenue Theatre, among others, has released their State of the Arts Marketing whitepaper for 2021 Q3.

As the omicron variant makes headlines globally, most of North America seems committed to continuing the reopening of arts and other performance venues. MogoARTS’ latest report points to the changes that have come with the realities of a COVID ravaged world.

The Survey

  • A total of 13 questions, and it ran from Sept. 9 to Sept. 23, 2021
  • Sent to 479 arts organizations through email and newsletter subscribers
  • Responses from more than 850 individuals
  • 4% of respondents were Canadian, the rest from the United States, with the majority (52%) hailing from the western states
  • Respondents included performing arts centres, theatres (65% between the two), “other”, being museums, festivals, and other stakeholders at 19%, orchestras 8%, and ballet companies 4%

Getting Back On Stage

  • 97% of organizations will be back to hosting live events by December 2021
  • 50% had already returned to the stage
  • Only 3% were delaying opening until January to March 2022

Pandemic Changes

The pandemic and the crisis it sparked in the performing arts has resulted in many changes and adjustments as arts organizations manoeuvre to keep up with the current reality.

  • 87% of organizations reported flat or a decrease in marketing budgets
  • Since January 2021, there was a significant increase in organizations who reported having to balance needs with reduced staffing
  • 62% of organizations had to make programming decisions related to safety requirements as well as accommodate social distance seating
  • 18% of organizations reported a delay in reopening caused by the availability of staff and talent

New Priorities

Priorities have changed. The biggest takeaway: a move away from season planning (-84% year over year as per their own data), towards a focus on single ticket sales (+500%) year over year.

  • The single top priority for respondents was focusing on single-ticket sales at 24%
  • A total of 53% said ticket sales were a top priority, including single-ticket sales (24%), season ticket sales (11%), donations (10%), and subscriptions (8%)
  • 16% are focusing on staying connected to their existing audiences
  • 11% said they were prioritizing safety precautions for in-person audiences, including communicating.

Leaning on communications strategies were among the key areas that the responding organizations indicated were crucial to their survival, including email blasts and newsletters.

One positive figure that emerges from the data is evidence of more connections between arts organizations.

  • 83% of organizations say they are working with peer arts organizations when it comes to reopening in all its complexities.

Supporting the arts is the one thing anyone can do to help maintain the momentum, and help arts organizations stabilize in these uncertain times.


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