Galleries, museums and other indoor venues will be allowed to reopen on May 17. But some customers may still feel anxious about safety. In the lead up to the big day, take a moment to consider how you’ll both reassure and welcome them back – with style

After more than a year of embracing a hermit-like existence, attending a live concert or museum exhibition seems positively indulgent. Lockdown gave us the chance to appreciate the little things in life, but there is a limit to how many freezing al fresco meals or weather-dependent walks one can get excited about. Luckily, the wait is almost up. On May 17, provided cases continue to fall, indoor venues of all types, from galleries and cinemas to bingo halls and theatres, will be allowed to reopen in England.

But while some customers may have a devil-may-care attitude, others will be more anxious about safety and cleanliness. Venues should ensure their communications hit the right tone: welcoming but reassuring. Government guidelines will of course need to be adhered to – hand-sanitising stations, social distancing measures, masks and the like – but who’s to say messaging has to take on a sobering voice? Adding a little dose of warmth, colour and light-heartedness may even help to calm nerves and ensure Covid-safe comms match the creative vibe of arts-focused businesses.

Take signage for example. There’s nothing like a bit of peeling neon yellow and black gaffa tape on the floor to kill the delicate aesthetic of an exhibition opening. Social distancing will still need to be in place come May 17, but it can be communicated tastefully. Jarring crime scene-esque colours can swapped for a more muted palette, with playful, vibrant and tastefully designed wayfinding signage and stickers.

For utmost transparency, venues may also want to consider communicating what’s gone on behind the scenes to create a clean, safe environment. How viewing times have been staggered, for example, or how often common areas are cleaned. If the last year has left you with a scant marketing budget, consider the government’s Restart Grant, announced in the new budget. Eligible non-essential businesses, including venues, could receive a cash grant of up to £18,000 to help them re-open safely.

With that in mind, you could go even further than signage. A video is an impactful way to show how much care you’ve taken in your preparations and to inform customers of their safety responsibilities. Use it on social media, in lobbies, or anywhere there are screens. For those still reluctant to attend in-person events, a reassuring video to watch at home could go some way to quell nerves and encourage them back. Or even provide a sneak peek at what awaits.

As the days grow warmer and we patiently see through the last weeks of lockdown, now’s the time to get all your planning ducks in a row. After spending the better part of the last year safely tucked up at home, ironically, it’s never been more exciting to shed our coats and head inside. So roll on May 17, the great indoors beckons!

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