By: Ashley Ann Wolfe

May 25, 2020

I’ll be completely candid: an eternal optimist, I’ve been finding it difficult to remain positive. Seeing theaters shutter, museums close, and friend upon friend become furloughed, it’s hard to find silver linings during these complicated times.

However, after nearly 3 months in quarantine, last week I had the pleasure of stopping by the Slover Linett office for an essential errand. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t eerie and a bit sad – surrounded by the empty desks of my colleagues who I’ve only seen via Zoom calls as of late. But before I left, I stepped out to the outdoor stairwell for the rare breath of unmasked fresh air, and for the first time in ages caught a glimpse of Chicago’s skyline – and it was stunning. I caught myself saying out loud, “It’s still there,” and nearly wept.

For understandable reasons, we are all a bit broken right now, but in that moment I found a spark of energy and hope that change is coming. Good change. Necessary change. But first, we have to do the work of understanding this moment in time and connect with what people are going through.

To that end, I am delighted to announce several upcoming virtual conferences and panels where our team & research partners will be sharing initial findings from the national study, Culture + Community in a Time of Crisis, which closed its survey last week with a staggering 120,000 + responses from folks across the country who were willing to give their time to share their needs, hopes, and expectations. Here is how to be among the first to learn the findings:

  • On June 1, Peter Linett & Jen Benoit-Bryan will give early glimpses from the national audience and community research, built around the 6 Ps of Experience Design, during this exciting session for the American Alliance of Museums virtual conference , co-facilitated by Liz Kunz Kollmann and Tim Hallman.
  • Participating cultural organizations can look forward to a webinar on Monday or Tuesday of next week, where Madeline Smith and Jen Benoit-Bryan will share initial topline data containing your audience’s responses from Wave 1 of the national survey, laid out in a series of tables & graphs. This webinar is optional but may be useful to those less familiar with research, and will be recorded and available for download through your organization’s Covid study user login.
  • On June 8, Peter Linett will join Indiana University’s Center for Cultural Affairs for a community engagement panel that also includes Nwamaka Agbo, Alan Brown, Tally Katz-Gerro, and Mark Shapiro.
  • Jen Benoit-Bryan joins Alan Brown, Jill Robinson, and moderator Sunil Iyengar on June 10 at the League of American Orchestras virtual convening for a session on Engaging Audiences in the Post-pandemic World.
  • Finally, we look forward to sharing more details about an upcoming Americans for the Arts panel where members of our team will be joined by Randy Cohen and other partners to discuss some of the key research studies that are currently happening. More on that soon!

Sure, some days can feel pretty bleak. But it’s helpful to remind ourselves that our communities need us, we need them, and folks are doing the work to find the path to bridging those needs in more equitable and inclusive ways than ever before.

Reflecting back to my recent moment at the office, I remind myself that the world is still out there. And it’s beautiful. Now, let’s make it even better.


Photo: View of Chicago’s skyline from Slover Linett headquarters. Photo by Ashley Ann Wolfe.

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