Anxiety over losing audiences not just during periods of social distancing but beyond is something I hear a lot from arts managers these days. The good news is this has been figured out for you already.
Spoiler: people do miss it. They down right yearn for it.
In the course of her work with Arts Capacity, violinist Holly Mulcahy has discovered just how much people miss the impact live cultural experiences have, even when other forms of engagement are still available.
She recently published an article about this at Neo Classical that pulls a survey from a prisoner that took part in a live recital program Arts Capacity provided to that facility in 2017.
Unlike the prisoners, we do have access to many online streaming artistic outlets, however they will become very old as we ultimately feel and know we are not as engaged as if we were experiencing a live in-person performance.
But I keep coming back to what I’ve learned from the recitals I’ve given in the prisons. Humans need interaction and humans need art and music. And these words from another prisoner also resonated: “All we get in the dorm are shallow movies, reality TV and news. This [the live recital concert] is a great way to touch humanity and the depths of the human spirit!”