The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County received 1,700 responses to a recent survey focusing on local arts events.
Over the past year, more than 5,000 local arts events were canceled. The survey was issued to help arts and cultural groups plan how and when to reopen and welcome community members back for in-person festivals, performances and other activities.
A key finding was a desire of audiences of all ages to return to in-person arts and cultural events as soon as vaccinations and immunity rise to a level high enough to substantially eliminate risk of infection.
“A small subset of our community is ready to return this spring, while the majority of survey participants anticipated they would be comfortable attending live performance and events by mid-summer and early fall,” said Chase Law, President and CEO of The Arts Council. “The survey results and the detailed breakdowns by Forsyth Futures will be extremely helpful from a planning perspective for our arts groups,” Law said, “as vaccinations continue and they begin bringing back live events. It is especially encouraging to our staff at The Arts Council as we plan in earnest to launch our 2021 Summer Concerts in the Park series on July 4.”
Outdoor events ranked high among those surveyed, followed closely by indoor events and virtual events. When asked about preferred cultural experiences in the post-COVID era, respondents listed music, theatre, festivals, film and visual arts, in that order. The acceptance of mixed in-person and virtual programming show how a year of virtual arts and cultural offerings have made their impact.
Survey participants said the role of the arts council should be an arts advocate, as well as community asset, grantmaker and fundraiser.
As for financial support of the arts, 61% of respondents said they make donations. Younger respondents indicated they would be willing to increase their support, while others said they most likely would contribute at the same level in the future.
Participant comments included a call for greater outreach to communities of color, more support for individual artists and small arts groups, and increased marketing of arts and cultural activities.
The survey results and extensive charts are available at www.intothearts.org.