Lockdown is difficult but challenging at the same time.
As every crisis, also this one is an opportunity to rethink – skills, strategies, relations, activities and job roles. For smaller countries, cultures, languages, it can be an opportunity to open up to the globalized world, global markets. Content is reachable cross borders.
Virtual events can be an opportunity for audiences to attend events they had not before due to different reasons (business, distance etc.). Organization of hybrid events has increased allowing improvements of safety plans and overall management of this format of events.
Organising digital or hybrid events is crucial also in order to provide artists opportunity to perform, work.
A crowded web.
However, digital space is busier than before! Out there, in the virtual space there is a huge amount of content. How can we point out to our content? Everybody needs everybody´s attention. And the concentration span is getting shorter. So, first you should think about who you want to target and with what.
The screen is the same for all but what is on the screen matters! Therefore, we need to rethink audience engagement, communication strategies, and producing more quality engagement on-line. Working with communities is important as well as building partnerships – within and cross sectors. Produce less but more quality content!
And work in partnership – within the cultural and creative sectors but also across sectors, with businesses. In order to improve how we communicate through digital channels we do not need digital but creative skills! It’s all about creativity and working with the talents across the sectors. And not all digital tools are costly (e.g. podcast).
Estonian Arts of Survival
In Estonia, considered the most “digitalized country”, where surprisingly (or not) people are now appreciating even more going off-line and taking care of their mental and physical health, they have really been quite prophetic with the “Arts of Survival” leading theme of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024.
Even more! In Estonia, under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture, 2020 has been announced the Year of Digital Culture. The Ministry of Culture has organised thematic years since 2000 and the Digital Culture year had been announced before we’ve been hit by COVID-19! The aim of the year is “to enable new generations to embrace the country’s living culture and heritage, and to support digital solutions”. And with the programming overtaken by the COVID-19 crisis, Estonia has even offered its digital education solutions for free to support other countries.
What happens when we go “back to normal”, if ever?
A tricky question gets a tricky answer. There might be no “old normal” anymore therefore we must think of social distances, smart cities and citizens, using digital tools and at the same time be critical about it!
But whatever happens: try to survive a lockdown with no culture, e g. music, books, films. Then you will see what a lockdown is! Remember, in culture, we have the best content in the world. We just have to know how to use it.
But there is something missing to fully seize the opportunities of going virtual – European virtual platforms. So this crisis should also be an opportunity to develop it. Or to do things very differently since we cannot compete with the digital giants! How? Cultural organisations should establish more connections with its community in order to become more relevant for them.