The Peabody Post

Arts Industry Leaders to Examine Post-COVID Future of the Performing Arts

Next NormalA diverse roster of performing artists, arts administrators, and arts funders will explore the post-COVID landscape for the performing arts in America in a February 10 symposium hosted online by the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. “The Next Normal: Arts Innovation and Resilience in a Post-COVID World” is a free, daylong event focused on the long-term impact of the pandemic, the path forward for the industry, and implications and opportunities for artists and organizations. In addition to three panel discussions of varying perspectives, attendees will have the opportunity to network in small group breakouts and participate in a session on design thinking.

Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein will moderate a series of panels including an Artists Panel exploring how the role and expectations of performing artists might change in the wake of the pandemic, and what skills artists will need to thrive in the future. The Artists Panel will feature:

  • Marin Alsop, conductor recognized internationally for her innovative approach to programming, deep commitment to education, and advocacy for music’s importance in the world
  • Thomas Dolby, whose road from early MTV star to ringtone creator to, now, author and professor has blended music and technology to singular effect
  • Du Yun, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, multi-instrumentalist, performance artist, and activist known for her “relentless originality and unflinching social conscience”
  • Stephen Hough, distinguished pianist, composer, and writer, and the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship
  • Sean Jones, a musical chameleon comfortable in any genre or setting as trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator, and activist
  • Peter Sellars, renowned theater, opera, and festival director known as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts in America

A second panel of the chief executives leading major performing arts organizations will delve into the long-term impact of COVID on established organizations, anticipated audience trends, and the role of technology in moving forward. Music Leadership panelists will include:

  • Afa Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization
  • Margaret Lioi, CEO of Chamber Music America
  • Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Marc Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America
  • Simon Woods, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras

A third panel will discuss the impact of the pandemic on the industry through the lens of arts funders, whose influence often drives program development. The Arts Funders panel will feature:

  • Ben Cameron, president, Jerome Foundation
  • Anita Contini, Arts program lead, Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Susan Feder, Arts and Culture program officer, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The symposium will close with an interactive session titled “Reinventing the Performing Arts through Design Thinking.” Led by Farouk Dey, a leading expert in experiential education and Johns Hopkins University’s vice provost for integrative learning and life design, the session will utilize case studies to introduce and explore design thinking approaches to challenging assumptions and solving problems.

“COVID-19 has been devastating for the performing arts in this country, but there is a way forward,” said Bronstein. “We launched the Peabody Conservatory Post-COVID Think Tank last fall to begin to explore internally what lessons we can learn from COVID’s impact. With this symposium, we want to broaden the conversation nationally and hear from each other about how we can create a stronger future for artists and arts institutions.”

“The Next Normal: Arts Innovation and Resilience in a Post-COVID World” will take place on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, from 10:45 am to 5:00 pm EST. It is free to attend; registration is required. Additional information and details are available at

Leave a Reply