On Thursday, December 3rd, CARW met with Sarah Smith Pancheri of the Milwaukee World Festival (Summerfest), Joe Balistrieri of The Rave / Eagles Club and Anne Metcalfe of the Milwaukee Ballet to understand how each of their organizations have handled the pressures of the pandemic. While each of the organizations were shut down completely during early 2021, they are all looking for ways to stay relevant and involved with their customer base.
From the start of the shut down the Rave has been forced to let the majority of their staff go since they are unable to host any concerts and are running on a very slim staff.
The Milwaukee Ballet while shut in early spring, was fortunate to have recently opened a new facility that was very Covid friendly and allows for plenty of social distancing. Their school reopened in July and has been open since. They are moving forward with a very small performance of the nutcracker with a maximum of ten guests at a time to abide by city guidelines.
Summerfest was very excited to open the brand new American Family ampitheater for 2020. While that did not happen, they are working very hard and gearing up for next summer. Sarah indicated that all plans will continue to push forward as they unveil the new format for Summerfest in 2021.
All three panelist were extremely focused on how they stay relevant during this time where they cannot interact with their customers. The Rave has done a great job of with a new merchandising site and purchasing new land to establish a 50K sq foot outdoor space. The Milwaukee Ballet has kept their school open and invested in keeping their dance company employed. They will be experimenting with virtual events soon. Summerfest is focused on being a positive impact to the community. They typically employ a large amount of people from Milwaukee look forward to bringing them back next summer.
There was a common theme amongst the group that they are “all in this together”. They cheered on each other’s accomplishments and understood each other’s frustrations. Relationships are key to staying afloat during this challenging time, connect with those long terms relationships while you aren’t able to see each other in person.. While it may take longer than anyone had hoped, they are confident that this industry will rebound. Reduce complexity during these times, be prepared for anything, follow local guidelines and hope for the best – but plan for the worst.
To view the whole webinar, click HERE.