2. June 2022

How Innovation is Powering Recovery in the Performing Arts

The Performing Arts and Cultural institutions have gone through a devastating period of uncertainty, stress, and financial hardship. Innovations and open technologies are fueling recovery. 

We recently wrote about innovative ways Arts & Culture orgs are fundraising, using technology, as well as the recovery of the live events sector more broadly. In the past few months, visitor numbers have increased dramatically across all live event categories, though precautions are still present. It’s clear that the Arts, Culture, and Live Performance-loving public are eager to return to their favourite shows, plays, operas, arts programs and cultural institutions. 

Impact on Performing Arts & Culture 

Although the impact of the pandemic will be felt for years to come throughout the performing Arts & Cultural sectors– as organisations, and many artists themselves struggled to stay financially afloat after the industry was closed practically overnight two years ago– the innovations that emerged from the pandemic will be helpful in easing recovery and building resilience against future unforeseen circumstances. 

To recap, in the UK alone, advanced theatre ticket sales dropped 92% in 2020, according to research published in issue 5 of Now, New and Next. The LA Times recently highlighted the recovery of the county’s arts industry but the perilous recovery it now faces, noting results of the L.A.’s Performing Arts & Reopening Survey, conducted by a group of local organizations. Some of the most seemingly insurmountable obstacles included reduced ticketing revenue and increased COVID safety expenses.  Likewise in Europe, continued inequities across Member States and regions are presume to imperil the financial stability of artists and culture workers according to research ordered by CULT and commissioned by IPOL (Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies).  

Now the questions must be answered: How can the Performing Arts and Culture sector, including museums, return to a pre-pandemic level of financial security, and beyond that, how can our industry accelerate recovery using the lessons learned during the pandemic? 

How Can Innovation Power Recovery in the Arts? 

The increasing numbers of attendees returning to their seats this late spring (and projection of returning patrons gleaned from summer/fall ticket sales), gives the industry cause for hope. Simultaneously, initiatives such as Nordic Bridges, for example, are driving cross-cultural collaboration and renewed interest in, in this case, Nordic artists, productions and stories in Canada for the entirety of 2022.

As the old adage goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” The choice for event producers and theatres over the last two years was either go digital, or lose the only income stream available. Performing arts organisations and cultural venues were forced to find new, innovative ways to bring live entertainment to living rooms, rather than invite patrons to their venues. 

New virtual and socially-distanced performances and new hybrid shows brought about new chances to embrace the performing arts and cultural experiences we were missing out on while providing new opportunities to support the arts and the artists most deeply impacted by the pandemic shutdown. 

In a landmark CAPACOA report (Canadian Association for the Performing Arts), there was a whole section on ‘Digitizing the Performing Arts.’ It was published in 2017, long before Covid, lockdown, masks, and hand sanitiser became ordinary concepts. Apart from the fact it uses the term ‘holograms,’ whereas now we call this technology AR/VR, augmented or virtual reality, it makes some valid and valuable points. 

The CAPACOA report states: “It is the evolution of fully moving holograms that holds the potential to transport much of the live performing arts experiences toward a kinetic digital experience akin to a live performance.” It goes on to elaborate that “this technology may hold the most dramatic potential for transformation in the performing arts and especially the digitisation of theatre, dance, opera and other performance experiences in the longer term.”

The Royal Opera House (ROH) has been experimenting with virtual reality (VR) in London. Live-streaming, cinema-based shows, and VR massively increase the audience size the ROH can reach. And this is proving to be a success, according to a Harvard Business School article

Will other artistic, live performances, and cultural organisations follow a similar path? It looks like the answer is yes.

Immersive Theatre is the new “In The Round”

The success of events like the Immersive Van Gogh experience, enabling patrons to delve into 360 art installations, is giving rise to immersive events in other live event categories, such as theater experiences. Of course, 360 theater productions aren’t new. Events “in the round” have existed for centuries. But the advent of new technologies including state-of-the-art visuals, sound and other sensory incitations brings new dimension to immersive theatre. 

Recently, we at Tixly had the opportunity to be a key technology partner in bringing one of the most highly anticipated immersive theatre experiences to life: Peaky Blinders: The Rise, a show that leverages the popularity of the hit tv series and the market desire to extend to new venues (by which we mean mediums and formats). In conjunction with our customer ArtsTickets and partners like TickX, we´re powering the ticketing for this amazing London show. 

TickX. who offer their production customers the booking and marketing solutions they need (and just like the backdrop of Peaky Blinders, TickX was founded in Manchester). TickX sits on top of ticketing solutions like Tixly. 

If you’ve not already grabbed your ticket, do it now, as it’s selling out fast! 

Digitisation of Ticketing Operations is a Solution to Stability 

Recovery is fueled by three core pillars: easing into the new normal with appropriate health and safety measures, ongoing and rapid digitisation of event operations, and the digital evolution in fundraising and ticket sales.

With cloud-based ticketing software, such as Tixly, organisations can quickly and easily sell tickets to exclusive online, streamed performances (and even VR shows) alongside in-person events. Your audiences and number of patrons could increase dramatically, supporting future growth and off-setting against Covid-based risks, where performances can still be enjoyed even when in-person seating capacity is limited. Likewise, the ability to quickly and easily communicate with ticket holders through our CRM provides additional adaptability that has become increasingly necessary. 

 As we have designed Tixly to be future-forward while serving your needs now, our customers can adapt and digitise without the worry of cumbersome transitions in the future. We let you take everything you need from the old systems that have bogged you down and enable you to again take your data with you if you ever leave (though, once they’ve tried Tixly, very few customers leave us). 

Our goal is to continue to do the heavy lifting, like we did when we anticipated a need for a built-in social distancing tool for mapping out fluctuations in venue capacity due to health and safety restrictions. Or, how we implemented functionality to enable merch and other perks purchases directly in the ticketing software, to increase both convenience and increased revenue.

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