Research project on the impacts of COVID-19 on culture consumers’ behaviour
It is no secret the cultural sector, more than any other industry, suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, the sanitary measures which forced the closure or the half-capacity opening of venues, often on very short notice, brought great financial strain to cultural organisations.
This crisis added to the digital transformation and the changes in consumers’ habits we have been observing in the last few years in the cultural industry, which was already exacerbated by the advent of online streaming platforms. The pandemic also brought forward the challenges of cultural organisations in adapting their business models and practices to address this issue, and their needs for information on their publics to offer a more enticing program.
Which lessons and solutions with data?
Synapse C experts noticed these uncertain times gave the arts and culture scene opportunities to collect new data – on novel audiences who showed interest for the new formats offered by organisations, or free events requiring registration, amongst others – but also constraints, with sparse data that is difficult to analyse on a common baseline.
From this perspective, we put together a research project which aimed to design and implement a frame to analyse the data gathered by performing arts organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic, with emphasis on tools which support visualisation and decisions based on data. The project has been executed by our intern Isadora Gicquel, who’s completing her final year of a computer engineering master’s program at Polytechnique Montréal, and supervised by Thomas Hurtut, associate professor at the Computer Engineering and Software Engineering Department at Polytechnique Montréal, and our collaborative project manager, Juliette Denis.
Timeline of sanitary measure for venues
First, our objective was to determine which different measures were established by the provincial government in the performing arts sector all through the pandemic. At the same time, we explored different studies, articles, news articles, etc. to gather reactions from organisations and publics at different times.
This work resulted in the creation of a interactive timeline specifically aimed at the performance arts sphere, which allows access to the different measures established at different stages and a summary of the reactions at chosen moments on the timeline. This is an ideal tool for recollecting the different stages of the pandemic and situate oneself regarding decisions that have been taken.
If an organisation shows interest in using this tool, it must first sign a confidentiality agreement with Synapse C. It must provide its ticketing data according to a specific format that’s common to all organisations, and the team supports the organisation with the data collection process. The gathered data allows evaluation of the programming pace, buying behaviours of publics, movements in the consumer base and evolution of the desirability of events.
After this, an analyst will carry out the data processing, the calculations are implemented in notebooks and automatically generate files containing all of the desired variables.
Finally, the files are entered in the tool which generates an interactive html page. The user, in a few clicks, can pick the desired angle and timeline for analysis. Visuals allow for evaluation of the evolutions of variables during the pandemic depending on different constraints imposed on the performing arts sector. The user can also visualise the parallels between variable before and after the pandemic.
The results generated by this tool will allow organisations to identify changes in the behaviour of their consumer base during and after the pandemic in order to steer their marketing and programming strategies. On a larger scale, this project can also allow organisations to put together emergency management plans to better prepare for future crisis.