Northlight Theatre, Skokie, IL. Photo by Michael Brosilow. Northlight Theatre, Skokie, IL. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
The following is an excerpt from an insight report published on June 2, 2020, "Tracking the Initial Impact of COVID-19 on the Performing Arts in the U.K. and North America," that is part of a larger project, the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard conducted by TRG Arts, which is helping arts organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. understand how the COVID-19 virus has affected their operations.
TRG Arts and Purple Seven are no better able than any other organization or individual to predict whether we are now emerging from a global pandemic or simply reaching the end of the first chapter of a longer and even more serious and destructive phase.
This initial analysis was undertaken to answer the question, “How are the U.K. and the North American markets faring in the wake of COVID-19 and the temporary closure of performing arts venues?”
We have seen that the response and behavior to date of performing arts organizations and their supporters have been very different in these two major international markets. In North America, while most organizations have seen a catastrophic dip in sales, some have limited the immediate financial impact of COVID-19 by effectively engaging with their most loyal patrons and sustaining, and in some cases even increasing, sales for shows later in 2020.
In the U.K. ticket sales and revenue fell earlier and further. Almost all organizations are selling a tiny fraction of the volumes of tickets they would expect at the current stage of the sales cycle. Around 15% have taken a proactive decision to stop selling tickets until they have greater clarity on reopening dates and arrangements.
Despite being ahead of the U.K. in the process of releasing lockdown and planning for the reopening of venues, in North America customer confidence does not appear to be returning and comparative weekly sales continue to be in decline.
Answering one question poses several further queries and hypotheses we plan to test in future reports:
Purple Seven and TRG Arts are still welcoming new organizations to join the free COVID-19 Sector Benchmark and would particularly like to welcome organizations in Canada and the Republic of Ireland to establish benchmarks in these nations. To sign up and receive a free dashboard to compare your organization’s performance with your peers, visit https://go.trgarts.com/benchmark.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The COVID-19 Sector Benchmark Dashboard, developed by TRG Arts in collaboration with U.K.-based audience analytics company Purple Seven, launched in early April 2020. The dashboard, which is free, provides near real-time intelligence and advice to help arts leaders see results as they respond to the pandemic. The project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to SMU DataArts, TRG Arts' longtime partner in advancing the arts and cultural sector.
When an organization signs up for the dashboard, an automated data feed is set up between the organization’s box office and the dashboard’s secure server. The automated feed provides a daily update on ticket sales, refunds and donations for the organization. In addition, data from all other organizations participating in the dashboard is aggregated in an anonymous format to create a national benchmark, which shows up on the dashboard and allows an organization to see how it compares with a large group of its peers. The dashboard is entirely anonymous, so no one else’s sales figures or customer data are identifiable to an organization. The dashboard provides daily insights for individual organizations that they can share with constituents and stakeholders; reveals sector trends in almost real-time, which can assist in short- and long-term planning; allows arts leaders and policy makers to track daily sales data across entire sectors; and by data gathering and benchmarking across the U.K., Canada and the U.S., gives a clearer picture of the effects of the virus on the arts sector and the recovery in each country. Monthly Insight Reports will be posted on the SMU DataArts and TRG Arts websites. Read more in the press release.