When we emerge from lockdown and our organisations re-open, they do so in a very different landscape. Whether you work directly for an organisation, or provide professional services to organisations in a freelance capacity, most of us are likely to be thinking about this.
Planning for re-opening will mean both planning for the shorter term and trying to predict the longer-term. Once open and audiences and staff are starting to return, adapting to the new and presumably shifting situation will require testing, creativity and experimentation, and the ability to implement changes quickly.
This is a summary of what we have heard and seen so far and we thought it would be useful to share. It is by no means a comprehensive guide, more of a starting point. Many thanks to anyone who has shared planning, thinking and questions, as well as useful links and references. Please, feel free to continue to do so over coming weeks and months. Hopefully we can also arrange some form of discussion.
Keeping the distance, staying safe
One of the immediate challenges, which may of course stay with us longer-term, will be to enable social distancing (2m in the UK, 1.5m in some European countries), which will affect all areas of a visit to a museum, place, house, zoo – or similar places where audiences engage. Here are some of the things you and others are currently thinking about:
Buildings and places with narrow routes, doors, paths and stairs, will need to enable social distancing as visitors move through those spaces. Potential solutions could include: new routes through; one-way routes, closing some areas at certain times, or all of the time; timed entry.
Focusing engagement on outdoors, where there is more space. It is also very likely that outdoor spaces can open up first. This is likely to mean developing new or content and interpretive tools, or repurposing existing content and interpretive activities to suit new scenarios.
Design solutions to enable and encourage distancing: For example, open space and visibility across a space; clear and defined back and fronts to spaces; more space round objects; clear routes (maybe linear, maybe one way); timed entries. Distancing guides could be integrated within the design to help people assess the 2m distance.
Where possible, modifications to existing layouts. Remove cases or objects, or add duplicate labels / interpretation in many places so that visitors can spread out.
Training for all staff that engage with audiences in some way; Keeping the distance, whilst still communicating / engaging clearly and with passion; Having to reinforce distancing.
How to keep the distance in queues (markers, staff engagement), cafes (fewer tables, takeaway only?) and shops.
Interactives / engagement through touch
Anything that requires touching - Hands-on interactives, screens, tactile objects and tactile touch activities etc - is of course problematic, at least shorter term.
Hands-on in development:
For hands-on activities in development, discussions range from excluding them altogether to putting robust cleaning / distancing measures in place.
Engaging in new / different ways
The setting in which visitors engage with our organisations and content, and we engage with them, looks drastically different, and will continue to do so for a while. This will result in new / different ways of engaging, finding ways for people to engage in meaningful and interesting ways that are also safe. Here are some things that have been mentioned, but we would love to hear your ideas as they develop:
Content and experiences accessible through visitors’ own devices
Indoor activities more outdoors
Local audiences / new audiences
One key aspect will be the shorter term (which may be prolonged) change in visitor profile, with a much stronger focus on the local, and presumably a sharp decline in international visitors. How can we better connect with our local audiences, can we even manage to attract new audiences.