Arts organizations and San Antonio fans tried to get past the coronavirus in 2021, only to be brought down to reluctance and closures as various variants harassed the community.
Looking towards 2022, the omicron variant of Covid-19 has given another challenge during year-end events and is hoping for normalcy in the New Year. the San Antonio Report examined five of the most important questions facing the arts and entertainment communities as the New Year approaches.
5. Will the restaurant industry be able to attract workers?
In 2017, San Antonio achieved rare status as a national culinary hotspot. Less than two years later, the pandemic struck, rocking what appeared to be a thriving industry. The extended hiatus in operations threatened results, but also inspired creative pivots in business models and new service regulations that emphasized on-the-go options. Restaurant workers were laid off and, while some returned when employers reopened with the help of federal funds, low wages and stressful working conditions, Worsened by onerous pandemic protocols and thorny clients, has turned away many, being part of the larger national trend dubbed the Great Resignation.
Some restaurateurs have responded by increasing hourly wages, while others have tried new pay systems that distribute wealth more evenly between waiters and staff – with mixed results. Options for customers have improved with extensive options for alfresco dining, take-out, and curbside pickup, but “hire all positions” signs remain commonplace at area restaurants as slow employment growth and labor shortages persist in the sector.
4. Will the live performance industry recover?
Without significant injections of federal aid to help recover from a pandemic shutdown, the entire live entertainment industry – from small venues to large performing arts venues – could have vanished. As an industry standard, only the most popular acts tend to profit from ticket sales, while many ensembles and organizations struggle to maintain their balance sheets and rely on cover fees, food sales. and drinks, sponsorships, season subscribers and donors to stay afloat.
Meanwhile, successive waves of COVID-19 have confused audiences with cancellations and kept theaters half full, as emerging and impending variants darken the horizon. Last year show producers altered performances with masks, plexiglass speakers, distanced performers and other measures, while this year some have returned to apparent normality, with caution.
3. Will the San Antonio museums’ new local focus continue?
Consumers understand the supply chain issues associated with late packaging, out-of-stock products and higher prices. For museums, pandemic closures and travel restrictions delay exhibition hours normally set years in advance, then staff shortages and industry-wide layoffs sparked new ones. disturbances.
The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), Witte Museum, McNay Art Museum, and DoSeum have responded by turning to their own collections, focusing on local collectors, and showcasing local artists, artisans and manufacturers. , thus avoiding a snag with travel and shipping in the process. SAMA also touted new acquisitions by local artists – bolstering its own collection and the portfolios of San Antonio artists in one go. The McNay also completed a $ 6.25 million renovation of its grounds, creating a more welcoming environment meant to attract San Antonians for picnics and other forms of outdoor fun.
Museums depend on a global focus to develop their reach and reach, but the momentary focus on local artists and collections will have far-reaching positive consequences for future shows and San Antonio’s art history.
2. Will Brackenridge Park and the Institute of Texan Cultures determine their future?
In June, the struggling Texan Cultures Institute apparently brought together all of San Antonio’s luminaries in town to help it chart its future, and then asked the community for input on what the 50-year-old museum should to concentrate. In September, the Brackenridge Park Conservancy released a 650-page report documenting the historic value of the city’s treasured park, then held public information-gathering sessions designed to garner public support for strengthening its infrastructure by ruined.
A year after its first successful meeting, institute officials will have to report on the progress of its “viewing” sessions, but it remains to be seen whether specific initiatives have been identified. The Sunken Garden Theater renovation costs have been called into question amid other pressing priorities for the 2022 municipal link, and Brackenridge has too many priorities to deal with at once, suggesting progress will be slow and gradual.
1. Will the San Antonio Symphony survive?
Both sides in this conflict are at an impasse, accusing each other of unfair labor practices and allegations of refusal to negotiate. Management requested arbitration and / or mediation, while the musicians’ union said the available arbitrators were biased in favor of management. Instead, they asked the management to cancel the contract they imposed in September, which would essentially have the effect of gutting the orchestra and pitting union members against each other, in a competition. for poorly paid and woefully underpaid full-time positions.
Management has made it clear that such measures are needed in the short term to strengthen the still struggling orchestra, while the union says agreeing to such terms would be suicidal. Other orchestras, such as the Louisville Orchestra in Kentucky, suffered such drastic austerity measures before slowly reverting to a semblance of earlier glory, but this example is in a city ten times the size of San Antonio. The musicians believe what Michael Kaiser, former interim executive director and ‘turnaround’ ace, said in 2018: ‘the money is there’. They blame their council for not working hard enough to get it, but council members claim they have shaken all the money trees in town and there aren’t any left.