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7th July, 2020

Resilience in the “new normal”

Claire Pattison Enterprise Fellow, Manchester Metropolitan University

At the beginning of lockdown, I started to think about resilience, specifically organisational resilience.

I re-examined an article I wrote about commercialisation of the arts and updated this in the light of covid-19 and social distancing rules. As we enter a new stage of the pandemic, arts organisations and businesses might start to think about how they re-open, expand their current activity or re-commence trading. Furthermore, how do those who have managed to create a connection to the community and expand their operation in lockdown, sustain this? Is the emotive link made between the organisation and community made during lockdown enduring and sustainable, or it is linked to this specific period of time? From the many businesses and organisations I have spoken to recently, and those who I follow their social media activity, and have purchased from, they appear to have evoked a “local loyalty”. This links to my early lockdown observation that those businesses doing well under the current social distancing rules are those making a connection with their customers, those who are storytelling, sharing their own experiences, and offering something to the community. 

In my talk for our small business support series, Getting Through and Getting On, I speak about following the strategic thinking resilience model, highlighting key questions organisations and businesses can ask themselves through these challenging times. For instance, are you engaging with stakeholders, funders and audiences with the design of projects and programmes? On the ERDF SMART Cheshire innovation programme I project manage, we encourage businesses to engage and test ideas with current customers to provide real insight into their idea. Furthermore, reflection on previous successes about what has worked in the past could help guide you in your decision making. Another enabler of resilience that I have seen in recent weeks is the concept of marshalling. This links to local loyalty because if you can get others to identify and believe in your vision and plans, this will help you prosper, something which I think has happened with those expanding during lockdown. By evaluating your connection to the community, marshalling this connection through emotion and storytelling could allow you to develop, adapt and harness this connection. If there is clarity, trust and vision with your community, you are creating value for them, they are more likely to buy your products (even in their new online form) and visit your attraction when you are able to safely re-open. I would encourage business owners and art organisation directors to explore these points to make sure you are the one people want to come back to. 

It will be very interesting to watch this unfold in the upcoming weeks and months. Can resilience be demonstrated through maintaining and developing an emotive connection to the community, your audience, your customers, and building upon local loyalty? Furthermore, if you feel you are missing local loyalty due to the lockdown restrictions, can you start to gain momentum on this now? I would imagine as people start to recommence some more normal ways of life through shopping, eating out, and some team sports, will they also seek ways to reconnect with the arts and local businesses as they search for more? Could examples of resilience be found here by arts organisations and businesses seizing the opportunity? 


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