BLOG 9th April 2020

The Arts during lockdown: Is digitising your content necessarily the answer?


You know when you see something that chimes with what you have been thinking? That’s how I felt when I read this Twitter thread.

But let me explain. I think the way we have responded to this crisis has been phenomenal. And the fact that more audiences are getting the chance to experience more work and see more stuff is a positive thing.

But is it in danger of getting lost in the noise? Think about how the last few weeks have been for you personally. Trying to settle into a very new way of working, balancing work with childcare or other people in the house. Or even spending multiple hours a day on zoom meetings and phone calls. And then the stuff outside work – looking after family members, trying to connect with friends and make sure there is still food in the cupboards and money to pay bills.

Where do cultural organisations fit in this list?

Current Online Behaviour

This “new normal” plays out in what people are searching for online. This really interesting article by Lucy Sinclair, the EMEA director of the insights team at Google, looks at some of the data coming out of Google Trends.

What they have found is that people have been searching for more information on things like government instructions, concerns about access to food and financial relief. They have been looking for helpful information on continuing education for children and ways to exercise at home. There has also been a spike in interest in ways to find balance with self-care and cooking featuring strongly.

And not everyone is live streaming. This report by Global Web Index found that although 95% of people said they were spending more time on in home media consumption, it is mostly TV and news services. Only ¼ of Millennials and Gen Z’s are live streaming.

They are however being creative themselves with 20% of Gen Z spending more time creating their own content for YouTube and Tik Tok.

Impact of Covid-19

People are worried about money with 28% thinking that Coronavirus is going to have a big or dramatic effect on their household incomes. Not surprisingly then, the things people want to watch provide some light relief – 1/3 wanted to see more funny videos or memes, with a similar number wanting tutorial or instructional videos.

Be cautious how you word any requests for donations from your audiences. There is a risk of appearing “tone deaf” as Gwyneth Paltrow found out when posting on Instagram recently.

Audience relationships

Of course, it is important to keep connected with audiences in this strange time. At thrive, we talk a lot about how to develop relationships with your audiences. And one of the most important parts of a relationship is good communication. And for it to be good, it has to to be a dialogue.


Why not use this time when the doors are closed and the show won’t be on, to ask your audiences how they are and what they need. If you know what they are struggling with, then you can use your creativity to adapt your products and programme to better fit current circumstances.

Knowing that parents are struggling with keeping children entertained at home for the foreseeable future, the Lyric made one of their Christmas shows, Alice in Wonderland available to stream for the last weekend in March. It was such a success they are now making other shows available.


Remember, you are creating relationships with people. And that requires an understanding of their lives, circumstances and needs. Your relationship has to move online, not just your content.

Laura Cusick

Research Analyst

Understand your audience, develop your strategy today. TALK TO US