Recap of Public Programs Network Meeting, April 17

Representatives from 20 organizations (for a list of participants click here) across the AAO Network convened a call to check-in on everyone’s progress in coping with fallout from COVID-19 and to issue updates on transitioning in-person programs to online platforms. In addition to organizational updates from participants, the notes below summarize some of the larger discussion points.

Revenue models for online programming

There was some uncertainly about how and when to charge for online programming; at the moment, there seems to be some hesitation about attaching a price-tag to webinar content, though some organization have instituted non-member pricing and are seeing favorable results—too early to draw significant conclusions.

Fundraising messaging Most organizations are making soft pitches for financial support as part of their standard newsletters and other institutional messaging. The National Building Museum was cited as one organization that has elected to move forward with a rather public “Campaign for Giving” to shore up finances in response to COVID-19. The program is roughly a quarter of the way to its $100,000 goal. In addition to the campaign, Building Museum staff on this call noted that their retail shop was seeing good success promoting puzzles and other at home products.

Virtual Tours and Public Programs

The topic of virtual tours came up several times, including organizations where tours are a core offering as well as organizations that include tours as part of large-format annual events or festivals. Chicago Architecture Center staff on the call provided an overview of how they have begun producing Zoom tours for which they are seeing local and non-local audiences. Participants were very interested in discussing the practical implementation of virtual tours—a follow-up call for the Tours network will get scheduled soon.

Questions also arose about creating virtual tours of exhibits. Danish Architecture Center staff on the call noted that a 3D camera tour of their BIG exhibit is one of the Center’s most popular pieces of online content. While that tour was filmed prior to the pandemic and with a different purpose in mind, DAC has since added interactive component via Minecraft for youth.

Program Sharing

AAO Executive Director Michael Wood asked participants if they would be interested in sharing their available content in order to keep audiences involved, or even to have AAO promote their upcoming virtual programs to leverage our network’s reach. There was interest in sharing programs amongst members, especially in recording member-to-member conversations.

Online Presence

Several call participants noted that they were struggling to adapt their websites to exclusively online programming.

At the close of the meeting, Michael Wood reminded everyone again about new NEA/CARES funding and to be sure prior grantees filed their applications later this month!