Even pre-Covid the general guidance for promotional images and text was to focus on the audience experience. Regardless of whether the venue you perform/show your work at is allowed to open, that is doubly true now.

Except that in the past you would want to depict many people enjoying an experience in close proximity to each other. The focus now is on a safe experience over a raucous, energizing experience. While that description seems pretty demotivating and counter-intuitive to all your instincts, the fact is that a “sold out” socially distanced experience is going to appear sparsely attended and that is what people want.

Now certainly there are photographic angles that can be used that mitigate that, making the event seem fairly well attended while showing the space separating people.

If you are in a place where you have been allowed to open, get those images of attendees now and start circulating them in order to begin assuaging peoples concerns. It may be a few months before they actually turn out to participate, but every bit of evidence that reinforces they will have a safe experience is useful.

If you haven’t been able to welcome people to your events, post pictures of signs on social media saying something like “This Row Close For Social Distancing” or those “Wait Here” floor stickers as an indication of your plans.

Perhaps the most important factor and tallest order in all this is a required communal effort by every arts and cultural venue, from the largest performing arts center to the smallest gallery or bar. If potential audiences are seeing or hearing about live experiences that undermine their confidence, the ripple effect impacts everyone.

About Joe Patti

In addition to writing for ArtHacker, I have been writing the blog, Butts in the Seats (buttsseats.com) since 2004.
I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)
I am currently the Director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University. Across my career I have worked at University of Hawaii-Leeward Community College, University of Central Florida, Asolo Theater, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Appel Farm Arts and Music Center and numerous other places both defunct and funky.

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