- Greater Manchester’s response to the pandemic demonstrated the significant strengths of a non-competitive, sector-led cultural ecosystem
Arts Collaboration Network
- The power of collaborative leadership to influence cultural strategy is highlighted by Arts Collaboration Network in Northern Ireland.
- The Lowry’s bruising experience, which saw the Salford Quays’ venue lose 95% of its income and pivot to provide services including a Nightingale Court and creative packs as part of Free School Meal provision, is emerging with reinforced local bonds.
- BALTIC, Gateshead has undergone major organisational change, with all staff and board receiving training in poverty-proofing, anti-racism, gender equity and disability-ready, deepening its local commitment to care and community.
- With the closure of its theatre and all income lost, Theatre Absolute, Coventry made imaginative use of its physical and digital assets. A street-facing shopfront became an exhibition space and work shifted online. Audiences have been retained and the company’s future plans now include serving the needs of people who won’t engage with the physical space.
- The Edinburgh Fringe saw revenue streams dry up almost overnight and the entire Fringe ecology was sent into crisis mode. A form of digital Fringe took place in 2020, with a hybrid live and digital event in 2021, underlining the need to manage the Fringe’s annual impact on the city, in terms of population influx, congestion and disruption, with the need to be financially viable.
- A pivot online for The British Library resulted in increased audiences and an expanded geographical reach, yet the importance of the British Library building as a social space was cemented. The British Library’s relationship with smaller libraries, cultural centres and “hyperlocal” communities was paramount in supporting local people, with the provision of learning packs via community centres and foodbanks.
United We Stream
- Since April 2020, a new digital cultural and fundraising initiative, United We Stream, launched by Greater Manchester Combined Authority, has hosted around 50 live streams, achieving 20 million views and raising £583,000 for local businesses and charities. This ad hoc initiative is one to watch, as a blueprint for supporting local talent and creating a place-based identity, reaching global audiences.
Screen in Wales S4C
- The relative financial security of Screen in Wales S4C meant that the sector and workforce were supported. The pandemic affirmed the crucial role of the public service broadcaster in the Welsh screen sector as well as in Welsh society, creating an appetite for Welsh-centred and Welsh language content.
Has the shift to working from home moved the goal posts for local arts attendance? Oliver Mantell has been considering the evidence of attendance at live arts events.
Insights into UK arts organisations' necessary pivots to online content and engagement during the pandemic.