In the arts industry, government restrictions brought large-scale concerts, shows and conferences to a grinding halt. These events generate significant revenue for organisers and couldn’t simply be paused in the face of a global recession. The solution? In a show of resourcefulness and ingenuity, many companies pivoted and shifted their events online.
When theatres went dark across the nation on 18 March, The Little Red Company kept the spotlight trained on the arts industry with The IsoLate Late Show; a weekly variety show bringing the cream of Australia’s musical and theatre talent into locked-down living rooms. Within 48 hours of the government’s national venue closures announcement, The Little Red Company mobilised a core team of 25 industry professionals across music, theatre and broadcast media to deliver the first of 10 online weekly shows via Facebook Live.
The IsoLate Late Show Executive Producer Naomi Price said while social distancing restrictions affected the ability to work in a traditional sense, it didn’t restrict the ability for actors and performers to be creative and connect online.
“In many respects, The IsoLate Late Show was born out of necessity. The necessity to be vocal. The necessity to demonstrate leadership to our team and the sector more broadly. The necessity to remain creative. The necessity to be busy. The necessity to deliver hope to our colleagues and audiences. The necessity to advocate for the vitalness of the arts and the essentialness of Australia’s creative workforce,” she said.
Facebook reported that live broadcasts, such as The IsoLate Late Show, doubled in June due to the ongoing impacts of social distancing. The social media giant recently gave creators the option to charge for live events, providing the arts and entertainment industries with a much-needed potential revenue stream.
Once the dust settles and restrictions are lifted, the question remains whether online events will continue to be embraced. Organisers have been presented with a multitude of benefits associated with hosting digital events including reduced overheads, diversification of participants and the elimination of travel costs and pollution.
However, many attendees would argue that nothing can truly replicate social interaction, particularly when it has been so sorely lacking over the past six months. This sentiment is supported by a recent Patternmakers survey which found from a 15,656 sample size:
- 28% are ready to attend a cultural event as soon as permitted
- 1 in 4 have attended a culture event in the past fortnight
- 68% are comfortable to attend a 100-seat venue
- 42% are currently making plans to attend
Although it is still too soon to tell, we predict a hybrid model combining in-person events and livestreaming will become the new normal for the arts and entertainment industry. This will create flexibility in light of social distancing requirements, while enabling artists to reach new audiences across the world stage.