Adapt to Survive
Dr. Poshyananda expects little relief in the way of government funding, as entire national economies will be in need of the same stimulus funding. He adds that American and European institutions may be worst hit, because of what he calls a “demand-supply side” model easily impacted by market fluctuations. But the threat is ubiquitous and organizations everywhere “must adapt to survive on their own.”
“For Bangkok Art Biennale, we have used digital and online to keep our stakeholders, followers and artists connected,” he says. “The theme ‘Escape Routes’ for Bangkok Art Biennale 2020-21 is chosen to reflect the grave new world that we are living in.”
The Biennale’s series of “Artist Talks” online have received popular virtual engagement, and plans are in place to adapt the upcoming Bangkok Art Biennale, which opens in October, to accommodate new social distancing requirements, he said.
“In addition, we will start an art-as-sanctuary program, where artists will be invited to have long-term residency to think, create, contemplate and discuss artistic contributions to improve ecological degradation and continuous natural disasters on a planetary scale.”
This story of crisis and accommodation, risk and resiliency, despair and determination, is repeated in museums the world over. According to recent studies by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums, 90 percent of museums worldwide were forced to close their doors and stop in-person operations during the pandemic. The reports estimate that of those 85,000 facilities, 13 percent—more than 11,000 museums—may never be able to reopen.
In the US alone, shuttered institutions were estimated to be losing $33 million a day at the height of the crisis, according to the American Alliance of Museums. That lost revenue, together with the threat of a resurgence in the virus, will require dramatic adjustments.
“As we look ahead to gradually reopening our doors, following the lead of our colleagues at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, we envision a changed museum experience within a changed world, but remain committed to providing a meaningful experience for visitors,” the Guggenheim’s Mr. Armstrong says.
Bettina Korek, Director of The Serpentine Gallery in London, says the space has had to make “sweeping changes” to daily operations with the closure of its galleries, mostly around remote work for staff and increases to its already well-established online offerings. One of the biggest challenges has involved reinventing the online audience experience.
“We took a ‘less is more’ approach,” Ms. Korek said. “We saw that we would have the biggest impact if we were able to present projects that encourage our audience to engage offline and away from their screens as well. We’ve put a lot of energy into projects like ‘do it,’ which presents recipes for anyone to create artworks on their own.”
The exhibit “do it” has been a feature of the Serpentine since 1993 and is billed as “an ever-expanding set of creative instructions by leading artists—simple enough for anyone to do,” according to the museum’s website.