As countries impose mandatory social-distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, arts & culture organisations have been forced to shut their doors to the public. While we normally see a boom of cultural events in springtime; with many performances and events, such as art fairs; this March we’ve witnessed many art organisations embracing technology (some for the first time) in order to stay relevant and interact with their audience from a safe distance.
Indeed, this is a challenging time for all, but it is also very encouraging to see so many successful examples of artistic, online initiatives that have been met with a warm welcome from the public.
In this blog, we have gathered some of the best examples of how arts organisations have dealt with the crisis by creatively engaging with their online audience and ensuring that they stay at the top of their mind.
Leveraging social media during critical moments
With many many people locked at home, social media has proven to be a very powerful tool when it comes to uniting communities. As a result, many art institutions have seized the opportunity to tune in on social and engage their audience online.
Quickly, the Twitter hashtag #MuseumFromHome became particularly popular for museums sharing their content in innovative ways. A number of organisations have been recognised and praised by the industry for how they have handled the lockdown, creating unique, special content on social media. For instance, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago received a lot of engagement after filming their penguins wandering around the zoo in the absence of human supervision. Another example is the Royal Academy in London, which asked its followers to draw their own artworks and share them on social media.
Examples like this showcase the instrumental role social media can play in maintaining a healthy connection with your customers – even amidst a pandemic. It has never been more important for your business to be found online and social media serves as a free channel which can drive conversions, build communities, provide support, and share entertainment; amongst many more functions.
Offering tours of world-famous historic sites
Ironically, while travelling during the coronavirus pandemic is prohibited, people have more time on their hands than ever that could have been used to explore cultural attractions. Well, Google Arts and Culture allows you to do just that – see exhibitions and learn from over 1,200 museums around the world in the comfort of your own home.
In addition to digitising over a thousand museums to deliver virtual walks, the Google Arts and Culture initiative also allows you to create your custom adventure by filtering artworks by colour and time periods; helping you to discover amazing historical pieces.
The platform also recently launched the Heritage on the Edge initiative, which features five Unesco World Heritage sites under threat from climate change. The project includes 3D maps, augmented reality features, and expert opinions on how we can protect these treasured landmarks.
Hosting virtual gallery exhibitions & art experiences
The arts & culture industry have demonstrated time and time again that taking up social distancing does not have to mean removing yourself completely from what’s going on around the world.
For example, even though Art Basel in Hong Kong is cancelled, you can still live stream gallery visits and artist talks. Similarly, Broadway theatres launched a streaming service called BroadwayHD, which allows you to see many of Broadway's hit shows while staying at home. Offering a rich collection of past performances; including Cats, The King and I, and Sound of Music; and filmed originals like Kinky Boots and 42nd Street, Broadway makes sure you don't have to miss out on the theatre during the quarantine.
And for those who want to admire historic sites like the Vatican City, The Musei Vaticani website offers 360° tours of the building's most famous areas, including a stunning virtual tour of Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. Additionally, you can watch a YouTube live stream of the Vatican, which includes the Pope's daily mass.
Delivering free online classes
In response to the lockdown, one of our clients – the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) – launched their campaign, [email protected], which offers online dance classes for people of all ages and abilities.
“It was rewarding for the team to be able to create [email protected] as a response to the lockdown, creating digital content, true to our artistic and organisational values and providing a valuable service for a demographic (55’s and over) often overlooked in a digital context.”, says RAD’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Melanie Murphy.
On the day the class went live, their website saw a 1,650% increase in traffic when compared to an average day. 40% of this traffic was generated via organic search, which goes to show the appetite is definitely there for virtual experiences. Additionally, their YouTube channel achieved nearly 2,000 new subscribers on the day of the live stream. “Engagement levels across all channels exceeded expectations and results in new sign-ups and subscribers to our YouTube channel, but the biggest success was the sentiment captured in the comments and shares – there was real appreciation from the community for the content” (Melanie Murphy).
The phenomenal response this campaign has had from the offset goes to show that engagement can often be accomplished with very little resource and some creativity. There will be more campaigns like this on the way from the Royal Academy and we are looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Support the arts
In an uncertain time like this, one thing is clear – cultural institutions around the world are essential in lifting our spirits and bringing solidarity to struggling communities everywhere. But, they cannot do this without our help. If you care about protecting the arts and have the ability to make a contribution, you can explore different ways to get involved here.
Meanwhile, After Digital will continue to assist organisations in the culture sector by helping them create a visible online presence and building effective strategies for coping with this crisis.
If you want to find out more about how we can assist your organisation, please do not hesitate to get in touch through the form below.