By: Peter Linett

March 17, 2020

What a way to discover how interconnected we are. I posted yesterday about the vital importance of keeping your audiences in the creative loop as your cultural organization shifts from live to digital experiences.

But as we’ve talked and worried about what’s really unfolding around the world, I realized research can do so much more, if we’re willing to quickly let go of some old ideas. What if, instead of thinking of research as a way to get your museum’s or arts organization’s questions answered, we thought of it as a way of empathizing and collaborating with our fellow anxious, confused humans in our communities? What if the questions became, How are you doing?

How can we help, even if our buildings are closed?

What are you and your loved ones and friends going through? And how can contemporary art — or classical music, or science, or American history, or African dance, or nature and animals — help you stay sane and get through it? Maybe even laugh a little, or be reminded of the sublime, or just take your mind off the news?

What are your ideas? How can we really come together even as we carefully stay apart?

Asking these kinds of questions, with all the humility they suggest, is suddenly obvious and urgent. But it’s been brewing in progressive arts and museum circles for years. Cultural leaders praised each other and sometimes themselves for the roles their institutions played after 9/11. Since then, enormous ethical energy and creativity have gone toward reclaiming “culture” and making the sector more inclusive in its people and its purposes. The COVID crisis is an opportunity — no, a demand — to pay off those promises and rethink what cultural organizations do and who they’re for.

We’re eager to help, and we will put every insight from our 20+ years of experience into working with foundations, service organizations, our fellow consultants, and of course individual arts & culture organizations. This is the time to open and activate the dialogue with our audiences and communities. Shutting our doors can also mean opening our ears, minds, and hearts.

Send me an email or pick up the phone: (773) 348-9200 x102. And please, stay healthy and keep the faith.

Photo: A light moment from our distributed staff meeting today. (Apologies to the old Brady Bunch show-open!)

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