Quick Tips For Communicating Performing Arts Cancellations and Postponements

The impact of COVID-19 on our industry has been extraordinary and unexpected with arts organizations facing event cancellations and postponements in an effort to respect social distancing and quell transmission concerns. Having a firm grasp on how you communicate these changes will help soothe the anxiety of your patrons and could even become an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with your audiences and communities.

In the spirit of providing empathy and support to arts organizations across the country, we have put together some simple tips to keep in mind when you are communicating changes to your patrons.

Consider Donations, Refunds, or Exchanges
While offering a refund is vital for certain patrons, encourage your audiences to take alternative actions. Ask them to consider turning the price of their ticket into a donation to your organization or offer them the chance to roll their ticket over to a future performance or another show in your season. By nurturing a philanthropic spirit in their patrons, arts organizations can continue to generate revenue.

Send Targeted Event Emails
Be sure you send targeted email communications to all your ticket buyers when announcing performance cancellations or postponements. Consider using a Google Form where patrons can submit for refunds, exchanges, or choose to donate tickets back to the organization. Google Forms are a free and easy way to quickly collect information you need. You can then use the Google Form’s automatically generated spreadsheet to keep all of your information in one place while processing these individual requests.

Reevaluate Marketing Language
Stay aware, and sensitive, to the current global climate by rethinking how you are speaking to your patrons so that you can adjust your marketing language depending on the nature of your cancellation or postponement. For example, in times like these, make sure to infuse empathy into your communications. Thank your audience for their support and be clear about their options moving forward.

Develop Alternative Programming
“Digital live events,” if you haven’t already become familiar with it, is a term we will be hearing more about over the coming months. While not every organization is set up to immediately begin live-streaming their mainstage performances, creatively thinking of new ways of bringing arts to your audience at home can keep your organization at the forefront of their minds. Consider putting together play readings or performances of monologues using video conferencing services like Zoom, or live stream concerts and cabarets from a living room with Facebook Live. You could even experience a new way to engage with your community by creating a Netflix Party which would bring your patrons together to watch a movie or series online.

If you’d like to learn more, our blog is a great resource for advice on connecting with your audience, weathering economic uncertainty, and embracing live streaming.

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