Yizan He, CEO and co-founder of ARTiSTORY

Member Article

The post-pandemic reality: The safe option is no longer enough

If you stay still in any walk of life, you risk being suddenly overtaken by current or even new competitors and then facing a challenge to claw yourself back into the race. In business, this is particularly relevant. The biggest danger in business is when you’re on top and not allowing the feelings of complacency to set in. It’s even more difficult for a fledgling business or sector. When struggling and lacking a sense of direction, turning around this failing ship requires embracing a certain level of modernisation and new ways of thinking to not just survive, but thrive.

Take the arts and cultural sector for example. It finds itself in a half-way house in terms of how urgent it is for individual businesses and the sector as a whole to find innovative ways of working. On one hand, the sector has many things going for it. For a start, the arts and culture is well known to contribute substantial financial benefits to the British economy, bringing in over £7.7 billion in direct turnover according to a recent report by Arts Council England report and the CEBR. For every £1 that is spent on salaries for the arts and culture industry, an additional £2.01 is generated in the wider economy, representing a healthy return on investment that shows that arts and culture are key sectors that should be supported by the government and private sector to thrive further.

However, the pandemic has meant that attendance figures have plummeted at some of the world’s most visited museums and galleries. The World Economic Forum reported that the 20 most visited museums in the world saw attendance drop by around 78% in 2020, and many have yet to return to their pre-pandemic levels of footfall. While our most cherished cultural centres have remained open, a warning sign of things to come was laid bare by the recent news that the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) suddenly closed due to financial difficulties, leaving over 300 students being unexpectedly forced to look for new college places.

The pandemic has hastened the need for the arts and cultural sector, not just in the UK but globally to make themselves attractive and relevant to the people’s lives, insofar as they consider visiting museums and art galleries an important trip that they need to make. A key demographic is the millennial generation. Irrespective of the pandemic, a plethora of digital devices and streaming services to name a few has meant that there are competing options on how people choose to spend their leisure pursuits. Unlike decades ago, the default option is no longer to include a visit to a museum or art gallery in an itinerary as part of a day out.

It is not all doom and gloom though. A company that is constantly thinking about and is actively implementing ways for the arts and cultural sector to modernise is a specialist art and cultural IP company called ARTiSTORY with an international presence of office hubs in Barcelona, London, Boston, Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore.

To help museums and art galleries generate broader revenue streams in order to stay financially solvent, ARTiSTORY plays a dual role of essentially being the content creation and business development director. Partnering with some of the world’s leading museums to create contemporary designs and artwork inspired by their collections is then licensed to brands and retailers for use on a diverse range of products including homeware and décor, food and drink products and NFTs.

While the pandemic is an extraordinary event that could not be predicted, it has exposed that visitor reliant services are vulnerable to public health crises that mean that people cannot enter their doors. There is now a need for museums and art galleries to re-evaluate if they are doing enough to diversify their business models to boost visitor numbers, and to what extent they can do more to future proof themselves against future shocks.

ARTiSTORY’s CEO and co-founder Yizan He offers frank insights on the importance of enterprise and innovation in the sector, saying: “In the post pandemic era, the cultural sector needs to reach out proactively to global audiences instead of waiting for visitors to show up at their doorsteps. They must respond to an increased demand and appetite for digital content.

He goes further, giving a nod to some ways that change is being embraced in some quarters highlighting that “some emerging technologies that museums are exploring to meet this demand for digital content is by creating more sustainable revenue streams include immersive exhibitions and digital collectibles.”

“Through fashion wear, digital products and immersive experiences implemented via licensing, more younger generations have become museum-goers and art lovers.”

With the biggest cost of living crisis globally in living memory, businesses and households are scrutinising their budgets closer than they have ever been before. Against this new reality of stricter financial management, those who cannot or refuse to offer added value risk being left behind, or worse still dropping out of the race altogether. Those who embrace change and actively offer added value to their customers and clients have a chance, at the very least of staying in the race and possibly even winning it.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Eugene Clark .

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