There are two parts in preparing for a return to normal post Covid-19. The first is to rebuild your arts organisation and the second is to prepare for the next pandemic/disaster.
Many organisations found themselves scrambling to prepare for Covid-19 and just as many discovered they lacked resources to protect their business and the people working there.
There are two future strategies for arts organisations to consider for the future. One being to ask what are our plans and preparations for future disasters? Many have in adequate business continuity plans. The other being to ask how to we build a financial buffer for the future?
Both these strategies form a part of the rebuilding process.
It is important to develop a plan for a rebuild. This is a role of the board or committee in collaboration with the senior management team. Without a plan there will be no direction and this will weaken your rebuild. Any rebuild will not be straightforward, there will be hiccups along the way and you need to plan for a variety of scenarios. Do not assume a return to normal immediately.
Restarting your business may be challenging. It takes time to develop events and attract an audience. Cash flow may not be immediate. How will you pay the expenses incurred in restarting your business?
Where will people come from to rebuild your business? Hopefully you have maintained contact with your employees and volunteers, but remember also, that every other arts organisation will be in the same rebuild phase as you. It might become a free for all as both employers and employees consider their options.
A rebuild provides you with an opportunity to review your operations. This should already be taking place during the isolation phase. Over time we develop a way of doing things, including workarounds to barriers. These may act as a block to your rebuild. The aim should be to streamline your operations so that you can operate in the most cost efficient and effective manner. Low costs will help with your rebuild.
Finally lets come back to the beginning. This pandemic will not the last one in your life. The next might occur sooner than we can imagine. This current pandemic may raise its ugly head once we look to rebuild our economic base. We now know how governments will act and we know now that with experience they may act sooner in the future. It would be a mistake to not plan for the worst, or for a re-occurrence.
It is a responsibility of your board or committee to look into the future, to identify key indicators of potential problems and try to stay ahead of the game.
Plan now for future resilience.
John Coxon is founder of art4u.australia, a consultancy working with arts organisations in Australia to build capacity and develop competencies. John is a creative with more than two decades experience providing advice to businesses in the nonprofit sector. Contact John on firstname.lastname@example.org