How is COVID impacting the Australian GLAM Sector? Part 3

The Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) has been conducting industry research into the impacts of COVID-19 on our sector. This, the third post in a series, summarises main findings from the November survey (n=185) as well as some final observations.

The August report is here and March/April overview here.

Overall Observations

Reflecting across the three surveys it emerged that:

  1. The sector needs to better define their impact on and value to the community.
  2. Across the board the sector experienced loss in income and decline in audiences – while improving it will still take some time to get back to pre-COVID levels (if at all).
  3. While morale was mainly steady throughout the pandemic many of our colleagues and institutions have been suffering, and continue to suffer.
  4. Financial models need to be re-thought – are institutions that are built largely on ageing volunteers, casual staff and contractors sustainable?
  5. Opportunities to reflect on current work processes – especially flexible ways of working and working from home (WFH), as well as re-thinking strategic directions and undertaking planning
  6. Realisation that digital as an important way to engage audiences, and is achievable.
  7. The pandemic put an emphasis on well-being and connections – and valuing these even more than before.
  8. The sector still cannot afford to be complacent, especially given recent events in Victoria (Lockdown #4).

November Main Themes

Being the final survey in a series we decided to ask three reflective questions:

  1. One thing they learned / reflected on during the pandemic
  2. One thing they will apply to operations post-pandemic
  3. Opportunities looking at post-COVID

The main themes that emerged across this group of questions were:

  • Opportunities to reflect on current work processes – especially flexible ways of working and working from home
  • Digital as an important way to engage audiences – and by giving it a go, respondents were now more inclined to keep going on this path
  • COVID forcing organisation to increase their communications within the organisation and with their audiences
  • Emphasising well-being and connections – and valuing these even more
  • Many also took the opportunity to re-think strategic directions and undertake some planning

My next post unpacks these in more detail.

Other November Findings

  • Similar to the April and August surveys, most were experiencing loss of income and cancelled programs/events, with main differences from August to November being more:
    • Rescheduled programs or events
    • Cancellation of contracts
    • Job losses
    • Moves to online programming
    • Issues with morale and staff well-being
  • 65% of organisations open (compared to 49% in August)
  • Even though many more organisations are open, overall loss of income across the board is a key impact, specifically through decreased tourism (despite some areas reporting higher tourism), little or no entry fees, decreased revenue from events and programs, and decrease in sales and merchandise
  • More report no financial support accessed in November –- probably due to changed circumstances with more venues open
  • Re-engaging with the community was identified as key issue in both in the April and August surveys and is still an issue for all November respondents
  • Overall, morale is still pretty good and consistent with August findings, and consistent across all sub-groups

Huge thanks to all who responded to our surveys – your input and considered comments were very much appreciated.

And, if you’re not a member of AMaGA please consider joining to support our sector and access awesome PD and events. Go here to join.


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