From The Rock

Connecting with patrons when the curtain is down

By | April 13, 2020

The outbreak of COVID-19 has touched every business in one way or another, and performing arts organizations are no exception. The pandemic forced season programming to come to an abrupt halt in an effort to prevent large crowds from congregating and risking people’s health. Several organizations were financially hit as they highly depend on ticket sales for revenue. However, if your orchestra, concert or theatrical production was canceled, your remainder of your season is not necessarily doomed. Art is ubiquitous. There are several ways to reach fans beyond the traditional live audience performance. Though people can’t enjoy your work in the comfort of a performance hall, you can still engage with them from afar.

If you’ve logged on to the internet in the past month, you probably could not escape the endless viewing options of musicians, actors and dancers presenting live performances through streaming services like Zoom and Facebook Live. Videos have opened more access for performers to connect with audiences. Your company can also shine on the web.

Present a virtual performance

While it’s not possible to livestream a full theatrical production or orchestral piece, now is the time to utilize video as a form of content marketing. If you had to cancel your local theater’s upcoming production of “Hairspray,” do an online “concert” with the leads singing their showstopping hits from their home. If you’re a classical theater company, actors can perform monologues and excerpts from your canceled show. An orchestra set to perform “Rhapsody in Blue” can highlight its oboist performing the iconic opening sequence. Even though your audience can’t be in the same room as you, video content allows you to take the performance to them.

Host a virtual Q&A

Interacting with your audiences will continue their engagement with your company. Host a live virtual event and let them be part of the conversation. Like any type of pre-curtain presentation or post-production talk, a virtual question and answer session will connect your team with audiences. Pick a topic for the hosted event so conversations don’t derail, such as secrets to stage combat or ballet techniques to master a Balanchine number. You could even have them submit questions in advance for your company to prepare before the session. Audiences love going “behind the scenes” and feeling like they have exclusive access to your company. Being socially distant does not have to deprive them of this access. 

Dive into the archives

With people increasing their screen time at home, give them content more thought-provoking than “Tiger King.” Celebrate your “throwbacks” by sharing videos and photos from previous concerts and productions. People are feeling nostalgic for times when we were able to gather and enjoy art together. You can simultaneously celebrate your successful past while maintaining hope for the day we can do this together once again. 

While your company may be hurting right now with revenue, you don’t want to be out of sight from your audience. Ushering your company to their living rooms is possible, easy and cost-efficient through video content. And, if people like what they see, they’ll be more inclined to offer donations to continue supporting your efforts and keep you afloat until it’s safe for the curtains to go up again. All you need is a smartphone and you’re good to go!