How is COVID impacting the Australian GLAM Sector? Part 1

The Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) has been conducting industry research into the impacts of COVID-19 on our sector. I have been working on the analysis, pulling out key ideas and trends. To date we have conducted two surveys – March-April (n=392) and August (n=349).

As context, Australia was in lockdown from March, with many States and Territories opening up in June (some a little earlier). Victoria went into a second-stage lockdown in July, and have only just re-opened.

AMaGA conducted the first survey early into the pandemic to uncover immediate impacts of COVID on both organisational and individual members.

Some of the specific findings included:

Galleries seemed to be hardest hit in term of loss of revenue, but have taken up the opportunity to increase digital output, probably because this was not a priority for them before. Galleries were also highly more likely to have cancelled contractor/freelancers and artists and a higher reliance on sponsorship which they report has declined.

Volunteer-run and Historic Societies were less likely to take up digital, probably to do with resourcing and skills. They also had significantly more concerns about re-opening, with volunteers reticent to come back to physical sites. These organisations were also more significantly suffering loss of income, especially as they were more likely to be relying on grants, donations and admission fees.

Local Government organisations are wanting to connect and network, and were concerned about re-opening, reporting lower morale – some reported that the pandemic demonstrated to them that they were not necessarily seen as an essential service, with the work they do not well-understood by Councils.

Museums had a high reliance on admission fees as revenue source.

Some other issues that emerged were:

Across all organisation types Government packages were not available (at that time) and there was concern expressed around the economic incentives available to the sector, especially given that the identified greatest risks to their recovery post-COVID were identified as a substantial drop in revenue and visitation (including schools), collapse of tourism, attracting new members and managing volunteers into the future.

Other support the sector felt was needed at the time, apart from financial assistance and grants, were:

  • IT / digital support
  • Ways to stay connected
  • How to continue collection management and other work without volunteers on site
  • Advocacy

This survey was repeated in August (with slightly different questions) – my next post outlines summary findings.

A reminder that we are about to launch our final touchpoint November survey so watch your inboxes and social channels.

And, if you’re not a member – please consider joining! Go here.

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