“None of us knows what we all know together”, those wise words originally uttered by either Euripides or Lao-Tseu (the internet can’t agree on an answer) truly came to life in our first Roadshow Australia conference. To end this tumultuous year on a positive note, we thought we’d share our key learnings with all of you, whether you attended or not. If you want to dig further and watch the recordings from the conference, you can access all 20 conference sessions.
Our two-day conference highlighted the rapid shifts that so many cultural institutions made in the past 10 months. You know what they say, “never waste a good crisis” ! Well our speakers sure found the silver linings in these cloudy times. Here are a few things that our one and only Corinne Estrada compiled from the conference.
Throughout the crisis, existing sponsors have been very open to support cultural organizations in exploring and developing digital opportunities. They have also expressed how grateful and impressed they were to see cultural institutions work their best to stay afloat, devising and launching programs for 2021 amidst global uncertainty. Paradoxically, many of our museum delegates have expressed how difficult it was to secure new sponsors at the moment. Experts discussed the idea that digital content creation could actually be the best way to convince new sponsors to get on board. As a matter of fact, many of the online strategies and new digital content developed during COVID have resulted in opportunities to reach new audiences, a positive outcome both for the institutions and their potential sponsors.
Donors …and cultural tourists
Despite all the struggle and social distancing that COVID has put us through, it has also provided opportunities to strengthen one-to-one relationships with donors, through individual (online) meetings. In his introduction to the keynote, John Richardson, Director of Development at the Art Gallery of NSW, explained that donors were more available to chat as they could no longer travel outside the city. Those constraints have actually resulted in an improved relationship, with high quality engagement and more personal (and personalized) exchanges.
Another positive outcome of travel restrictions due to COVID is the surge in local cultural tourism. As Renaissance Tours pointed out in their session, Australians staying at home have had more time to discover their national heritage and a disposable income available to spend. We can imagine that this is true in other countries around the globe.
The COVID crisis has forced every institution to come up with radically new ideas in order to stay afloat. We have heard many ingenious strategies and programs developed by our delegates in all fields: from theatre to fashion, and from music to film.
The Black Lives Matter movement has found a new echo within cultural institutions in 2020, with more and more of them taking a stance on the subject. We discussed failed attempt to support black voices and the lessons learnt from those mistakes with the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. Decolonizing our collections but also our ways of thinking and acting through our institutions is a process of trial and error that is nonetheless necessary if we — as cultural workers — are to achieve our missions of modeling more equitable relationships within (and between) Culture(s). In Australia this year, many arts organizations have seized the urgency to develop educational programs with indigenous artists and aboriginal centers. We hope to see those practices strengthen and gain ground in the future.
Last but not least, the winners of the 30 under 30 initiative, selected by emerging professionals worldwide and which were revealed during the conference, showed inspring examples of artists and local communities working together to highlight and tackle environmental issues. You can learn more about the winning initiatives further down.