Should arts venues hibernate or adapt in order to survive?

Should arts venues hibernate or adapt in order to survive?

18th September 2020
Should arts venues hibernate or adapt in order to survive? - YPIA Blog
Written by Toks Dada | 18th September 2020

As the COVID-19 Culture Recovery Fund opens, will hibernation or adaptation be the best long-term survival strategy? (Originally published on 11 August 2020 at

Growing up in East Manchester, concert halls were a haven – a home away from home. Some of my happiest moments were spent in concert halls – singing in the Hallé Youth Choir on stage at the Bridgewater Hall for a recording of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, hearing Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite performed live for the first time at the RNCM Concert Hall, taking a youth orchestra field-trip to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for pianist Kathryn Stott’s 50th birthday concert and feeling totally inspired as the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Natalie Klein performed Giovanni Sollima’s Violoncelles Vibrez! as part of a 10-piece cello ensemble alongside Sollima himself. My emotional attachment to concert halls runs deep.

Now, years later, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels perhaps ironic that concert halls, that symbolised so much joy and happiness from my early years, now represent a barrier to the future of producing art. As lockdown measures begin to ease, and arts organisations such as orchestras and other performing ensembles continue to find ways of reaching audiences within the constraints of social distancing guidelines, arts venues remain dormant. A dividing line is beginning to appear...

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Toks Dada is a Programmer, Curator & Producer. 

Dedicated to engaging new audiences with classical music, Toks is the Classical Programme Manager at Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham where, since August 2019, he has been responsible for leading the classical music programme. In September 2020, Wonderfeel – the Netherlands’ biggest outdoor classical music festival – announced Toks as Guest Curator for the 2021 Festival. Toks is a Board Director at Welsh National Opera, an Advisor at PRS for Music Foundation, and a Fellow of the International Society for the Performing Arts.