Arts and Cultural Survey to Help Local Arts Organizations Prepare for “Reopening” and Help the Arts Council prepare for the future
Part of its “Relief, Recover, Reopening” strategy
Winston-Salem, NC (April 22, 2021) -- A collective cultural survey commissioned by The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County is helping the arts and cultural sector prepare for post-COVID reopening strategies. Forsyth Futures, a local data-research non-profit, sent out more than 57,000 email surveys to arts audiences of many local arts and cultural organizations, including: a/perture, Bookmarks, NC Black Repertory Company, Piedmont Craftsmen, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Spring Theatre, The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County, Winston-Salem Delta Fine Arts (Delta Arts Center), Winston-Salem Symphony, and Winston-Salem Writers.
The survey prompted 1,700 responses. A key finding was a desire of audiences of all ages to return to in-person arts and cultural events as soon as vaccinations and immunity rise to a level high enough to substantially eliminate risk of infection.
Chase Law, President and CEO of The Arts Council, said, “A small subset of our community is ready to return this spring, while the majority of survey participants anticipated they would be comfortable attending live performance and events by mid-summer and early fall.”
“While COVID protocols will still be in place, the fact that we can report that 88 percent of respondents said they have already received the vaccine or definitely plan to do so should help reduce any reluctance of traditional audiences about returning to in-person arts and cultural events,” said Law.
“The survey results and the detailed breakdowns by Forsyth Futures will be extremely helpful from a planning perspective for our arts groups,” Law said, “as vaccinations continue and they begin bringing back live events. It is especially encouraging to our staff at The Arts Council as we plan in earnest to launch our 2021 Summer Concerts in the Park series on July 4.”
Outdoor events ranked high among persons surveyed, followed closely by indoor events and virtual events. “The pandemic has forced arts organization to be inventive, and they sought out virtual ways to keep their audiences engaged,” said Law, “I imagine as live arts and cultural programming reemerges in our community that a virtual element will continue to be incorporated in the ongoing offerings within area arts and cultural organizations.”
When asked about preferred cultural experiences in the post-COVID era, respondents listed music, theatre, festivals, film and visual arts, in that order. A year of virtual arts and cultural offerings has made their impact as evidenced in acceptance of mixed in-person and virtual programming.
Looking forward at its own strategic planning process, The Arts Council asked those surveyed what role they would like to see The Arts Council play in the community. The most commonly selected role for The Arts Council was that of arts advocate, but more than half of the respondents selected the other three roles – community asset, grantmaker and fundraiser – as well. “We are in a unique position to champion the arts and cultural sector, and we are committed to being a leader in advocating and supporting our arts and cultural partners and creative individuals,” said Law. “We will ensure that remains a top priory.”
Some 61 percent of respondents indicated they now provide financial support for the arts. Interestingly, younger respondents indicated they would be willing to increase their support going forward while others said they most likely would contribute at the same level in the future. “It is encouraging,” said Law, “that the next generation is this committed to the arts because they are in fact the key to helping us sustain and grow this strong and robust arts community in the future.”
Respondents were able to make additional comments and feedback. Those comments included calls for greater outreach to communities of color, more support for individual artists and small arts groups, and increased marketing of arts and cultural activities.
The survey results are presented with both narrative and extensive charts, and the survey is available in its entirety online at intothearts.org. Additional information is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County is the chief advocate of the arts and cultural sector in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. The Arts Council’s goal is to serve as a leader in lifting up, creating awareness and providing support to grow and sustain the arts and cultural offerings throughout our region, ultimately bringing our community together and making it a great place to live, work and play.
Download the complete report: