Planning for the Unknown. Again.
November 16, 2020 In: Sound Bits
In addition to my role at the PRJC, I serve as the Music Director of a summer music program for high school wind, brass, and percussion students. In the May 11th (Shifting the Paradigm: Reflections on Contingency Planning) and August 24th (Follow Up: From Program Pivot to Program Creation) SoundBits, I shared lessons learned and insights gained from both the planning and execution of a virtual summer music festival for high-school students.
Now, approximately eight months after the initial outbreak of COVID-19 and the shuttering of schools and concert halls, and approximately eight-months before our scheduled Summer 2021 festival, we find ourselves in a very similar situation: attempting to develop programming, budgets, and marketing calendars for the unknown. In our current climate, it feels challenging enough to know what the next day will bring, never mind months in the future. Yet as the financial situation for many arts organizations become more precarious, how does their ability to react to the current arts landscape become limited? In recent months, these two factors have often felt at odds: the necessity for arts organizations to be nimble, quickly react to opportunities, and take risks in order to stay relevant in our new arts ecosystem, vs. the necessity for arts organizations to limit risk and conserve resources in order to stay solvent. Finding the balance seems to be the formidable challenge faced collectively by arts leaders and arts organizations. It is also clear that the work, priorities, and aforementioned balance, of arts organizations in the time leading up the COVID-19 crisis has directly impacted how these organizations are able to navigate the current climate. Below are a few things we’ve learned and resources we’ve found as we’ve been trying to plan for the unknown:
- SWOT Analysis. This simple tool has proved helpful in identifying new opportunities for the Summer Festival and understanding the associated risks.
- The one-pager. The current climate has spurred greater collaboration and investment in the summer festival from other departments and programs within this institution. This created the need for us to create a succinct overview of what we do and what we prioritize. The process of self reflecting on our history and current practice has greatly helped to clarify our vision for the future.
- Audience/Community Development: striving to build our community/audiences when doing so presents a significant heathy & safety risk present a significant challenge. The Wallace Foundation has invested significantly in audience development and has a rich library of resources for organizations.
- The Mindfulness App. In recent months, I have turned to mindfulness practice to help reduce stress and improve focus. The Mindfulness App has been a welcome addition to my iPhone home-screen and daily routine.