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Digital Threshold Live is a series of webcasts featuring new guest speakers in each episode from a variety of industries moderated by Evolv Technology's Co-founder & Head of Corporate Development, Anil Chitkara. Learn More.

 
 

EPISODE 1:

Safely Reopening New York's Arts Venues in a Pandemic
Aired Live on October 1, 2020 at 1pm ET

Watch it OnDemand

Keith Prewitt

Chief Security Officer

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lisa Schroeder

Director of Finance, Performance and Campus Operations

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Thomas Slade

Senior Security Director

American Museum of Natural History

Key Takeaways from Episode 1:
  • Patrons and staff are the lifeblood of the institution, they need to feel safe.
  • Creating an exceptional experience for patrons and staff should be at the center of your processes.
  • Digital transformation is everywhere - in the arts, in physical security and it's here to stay.
 
Digital Threshold Live - Episode 1 Transcript

Anil Chitkara:

Welcome to the Digital Threshold Live. We will bring you professionals and practitioners at the intersection of venues in technology, who are helping improve the experience at their venues. They will share their experience, addressing today's challenges, and turning them into opportunities and share their perspective on how the future may unfold at venues and organizations where people gather. This discussion is intended to provide you with some very specific actions you can take back to your organizations today, and inspire you to think about ideas for your venue in the future. Let's get started.

Anil Chitkara:

Welcome to Digital Threshold episode one. We have three excellent guests today, three professionals who have helped reopen New York City. As we all know, much of the country has shut down in the COVID era. In the case of New York City, about 60 million tourists have traditionally visited the city. In the three months ended June 30th, there was about a 90% decline in those visiting New York. It's been hit very, very hard. Tourism represents almost $50 billion to the New York City economy. Reopening New York City has been very important for those venues and those people who live there.

Anil Chitkara:

As I said, we have an opportunity to talk to three different executives who have played a role in reopening their specific institutions in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, and the American Museum of Natural History represent about 16 million tourists a year before COVID hit. I want to start with Lisa Schroeder. Lisa works at Lincoln Center and she's been leading the reopening committee that has been working to reopen the various venues and constituencies at Lincoln Center.

Anil Chitkara:

Lincoln Center is about a 16-acre campus with 11 different constituent or resident organizations, with about five million visitors a year. Lisa has been doing a lot of work across the organization to do planning around that. Lisa, can you share some of the experience and the planning you've been doing as you've thought about the different organizations, different groups of people in different venues within the Lincoln Center campus?

Lisa Schroeder:

Sure. Thank you, Anil. It's a pleasure to be here. Yes, so the one thing we have in common with 11 different resident organizations at Lincoln Center is that we are dedicated to the performing arts. Unfortunately, the performing arts is dead without an audience. So our challenge was to come together and talk about, how can we move forward in this environment? Luckily, we had each other and this gave us really a common thread. I think one thing we all feel in New York City is the strong sense of community, both in our small groups, like at Lincoln Center among 11 of us, and in the large group.

Lisa Schroeder:

We all want places open and we all want to be safe. We take a lot of pride in that. So 11 organizations came together and said, "What can we do to make a plan?" We can open outdoors first. We have 16 acres. Let's let people come back to our 16 acres and enjoy the beauty of just being there and provide what we can. And then, how do we open our offices and studios? We have the Julliard College and we have the School of American Ballet, and these dancers and students really need to come back. Then down the road, how will we open these performing arts and venues, which are not going to open for a while? We're not going to sit in a room with 2,000 people listening to a live performance for a while.

Lisa Schroeder:

But we did take it in those stages so that at least we could have some hope to do some amazing things outside, provide some dances and do some live streams, which we're doing lots of different things outside. The beauty also was we could come together and community, and really everybody was so willing to do the research. People came and gave us advice from different hospitals in town, different attorneys in town. So we, together, we wrote the guidelines and then we reviewed them. Our experience was starting from a sense of desperation and really ending with a closer community of people who are trying to solve the problem.

Anil Chitkara:

Great. Thank you, Lisa. We have Keith Prewitt. Keith has a long history with the US Secret Service, protecting very important people. Now he's taken that experience and over the last few years, been protecting very important art, and staff, and visitors that come to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As many of you may know, the metropolitan museum of art is 150 years old. I believe it's this year, Keith. It's the largest art museum in the US and has traditionally had about six and a half million visitors. Very large campus, very large number of people coming through there.

Anil Chitkara:

Keith, you and your organization have done different things to plan over the years. And in fact, last fall, you did a tabletop exercise to plan for potential issues that might affect the museum. Can you talk a little bit about the tabletop exercise and how that helped you plan for the pandemic that yet was not quite on the horizon here in the US?

Keith Prewitt:

Well, thank you, Neil. I really appreciate the opportunity to join this forum and speak to the listeners. You're right. Ironically, we did have a tabletop exercise that took place back in November this year, without any foresight as to what the future was holding. But that tabletop exercise encompassed the following scenarios. It encompasses structural collapse simply because the Met is a location that has two million square feet, and there's always a construction project going on within the Met.

Keith Prewitt:

Obviously, an active shooter, and then also a scenario involving a pandemic or a chemical, biological hazard. So, from there, we worked out the variables, if you will, and delineated roles and responsibilities throughout the entirety of the museum and who would take the lead on the planning activities. We actually had a chance to put that plan into work in early March this year, and thank goodness we did.

Keith Prewitt:

The one thing this pandemic scenario has definitely validated for us is you have to have a comprehensive emergency preparedness and business continuity plan, for sure. No matter how you plan, there's always going to be something that doesn't always go according to plan. So we learned significant lessons from that episode.

Anil Chitkara:

Got it, Keith. Are there some specific things that you had learned in the tabletop, but then as the actual pandemic hit, they were different and caused you to adjust or modify some of the plans that you thought you had? Inevitably, when you get into it, things are slightly different than you might have expected. Are there a couple of lessons you've taken away from that from a planning perspective?

Keith Prewitt:

Well, absolutely. I don't think any of us had planned on the magnitude and the gravity of what this pandemic brought on board. This is a community, a workforce of over 2,300 employees. That's shrunk down significantly to about a total of 120, to take care of that two million square feet for the obvious reasons. Therein lies the challenges. Obviously, you're concerned about your critical infrastructure, your key assets, and also just the basic operations of the institution, getting the lights turned on and the systems going, because you have to be aware of your environment and controls, if you will, for the museum, to maintain the integrity of the collection.

Anil Chitkara:

Yeah. Thank you, Keith. Our third guest is Tom Slade. Tom has nearly 30 years in law enforcement, and then many years, of I think about 20 years, Tom, at the American Museum of Natural History leading the security team there. The museum itself is actually 151 years old, a year older than the Met. Both institutions have been there a long time. They've actually been through the Spanish flu as part of their history, as it indicates.

Anil Chitkara:

The American Museum of Natural History is big. It's 26 interconnected buildings. It's four city blocks and about five million visitors there. So Tom, you've been at the museum a long time. It's a very large place. In fact, there's lots of different constituents there. There's a lot of international folks that come there. You have a lot of experience with other museums, working with them or talking with them. What is your perspective on planning? Once COVID started hitting, how did you and how did the museum staff and leadership start planning for COVID? How did they start planning for the reopening around COVID? Could you just talk us through a little bit of some of the inner workings in the conference rooms and the boardrooms there?

Tom Slade:

Well, thank you, Anil, for inviting me to this. Very much like Keith, when this struck, we did not perceive it to be a six or seven-month issue. We went to our emergency management plan, which did cover... And continuity of business. It did cover closures of the museum for periods of time. We had a plan for a 15-day closure, a 30-day closure, which involved a lot of issues with respect to human resources and payroll. Those were all designed around situations where we'd have to close, whether it be an attack or something going on.

Tom Slade:

We implemented that pretty quickly, and that allowed us to keep people on payroll and to start our planning process. It obviously was not exactly what we needed for a shutdown, which would go on for months. When we started to realize that this was going to continue to go on, we had a shift into somewhat unchartered waters. We did put together, as the other speakers said, a plan which involved representing some all visitor-facing operations, to start looking at what would we do when we reopen, although we didn't think it would be six months later, and to break that up into little pieces, whether it be a training piece, whether it be the social distancing piece, whether it be training employees when they returned from furlough.

Tom Slade:

The team broke them up and different parts of the plan were led by different components, whether it be legal or human resources security. What we did is pretty much what everybody else did. We started to feed up to the senior executive level proposed plans, which were then approved or tweaked, and then came back to us for implementation. The one thing I'd have to say we all came to realize was the complexity of planning for a COVID shutdown and meeting government requirements so that our employees, when they return, and our visitors would be safe, was more daunting than we thought. And it took a little bit more time than we thought.

Tom Slade:

Walking through two million square feet of buildings like we all did, trying to determine office locations and occupancies. We have a lot of educational classes that are here, we knew would be coming back. So the only point I would make there was, while we felt it was very successful, it did take longer than we thought. If you're an institution which was in the process of planning to reopen, I would just recommend that you start as soon as possible, because it does take quite a period of time. Even with all the significant resources and talented people we had, it just takes a long time.

Anil Chitkara:

No, that's great, Tom. I want to just talk a little bit more about one of the points you made, which was you had an emergency preparedness plan. I think all three of you had an emergency preparedness plan, but you didn't expect it to be six months. I'm sure nobody foresaw how it played out and how it continues to play out. So it is a very uncertain environment, both in terms of the timeframe and the severity. So there's a lot of uncertainty that you need to plan around. And then, as Keith and Lisa were talking about, there's a lot of different constituents, whether it's different constituent groups or even just functional teams.

Anil Chitkara:

There's an HR team, there's a finance team, there's a performing or an arts team, there's a facilities team. Lisa, maybe you can just talk a little bit about how you work through that. How can you plan with so much uncertainty in terms of how the pandemic played out and how it might play down, and all these different groups that have... They might have somewhat different goals. All goals of reopening, but somewhat different perspectives sort of, and balancing different factors.

Lisa Schroeder:

Sure. We were really helped by starting with existing guidelines. Even though the guidelines changed from the CDC and the NIH and the city and state, at least it gave us a framework to start with. And so, we also found, and as I was mentioning community before, that everyone was willing to take a piece of it and say, "Okay, what are the best practices on managing the office space?" And people really doing a deep dive into the guidelines there. I do really appreciate our city and state officials for creating those, because that gave us a place to start and to say, "How can we comply with this? And then how can we use technology?"

Lisa Schroeder:

We were able to find these devices and certified devices, which would allow us to both do the health training and take temperatures in a way that was very seamless coming in. I think we're all looking for new technologies to use, not only now, but in the future, to help us. We started with the guidelines and then we did research in different areas. Like I said, I've brought in people to help us. I just want to say to Keith that I went to the Met the day that it opened, and I'm sure I was like the thousands of other people, like tears were in my eyes because just to finally see the beauty of art again, it's almost like you don't know what you missed until you have it again.

Lisa Schroeder:

I'm sure we'll all feel that way when we can go to a performing art institution again. But all of this work is appreciated by the community and each other for us just to bring back whatever we can bring back as we can.

Anil Chitkara:

No, I think that's a very important point, Lisa, is that I started by talking about the visitors and the impact on the city. That's at a macro level, but it happens at an individual level. It happens at a personal level. We individually go and listen to the Philharmonic. We individually go and look at the whale exhibit at the museum, or the art that's in the Met. So it's really something that's been missing in the city. Let's start talking about that. Let's start talking a little bit beyond planning.

Anil Chitkara:

Now, each of you, to some extent, have reopened, to some, a large extent, reopened your institutions. Can you talk a little bit about some of the tactics that you've used, some of the specific protocols you've put in place. Lisa, you touched on it a little bit, some of the technology. We've seen a lot about thermal cameras and touchless ticketing and lots of different things. So I think it would be really interesting to hear how each of you are reopening, some of the things that are different or new relative to pre COVID. Keith, maybe we'll start with you. If you can just talk a little bit about some of the specifics in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ reopening plan and how they're going.

Keith Prewitt:

Well, thank you. First and foremost, we internally leveraged a taskforce coordination effort, if you will, to look at it from an enterprise perspective and what we're going to do. Whether it was trends, tactics, technology, that taskforce looked at everything from soup to nuts. Externally, working with good partners like Tom and Lisa, and some of the other cultural institutions, we actually formed like a cultural institution, a security consortium, if you will, to help us identify what were the best and better practices out there that we could leverage with one another.

Keith Prewitt:

Trust me, the one thing that at least I've learned during this process is that no individual or institution has a monopoly on good ideas when it comes to these things. And so, there's always a better way to do things out there. From a technology perspective, as Tom alluded to earlier, we've all looked at thermographic cameras, and temperature-taking devices, and contact tracing platforms and protocols. It's amazing how many organizations and vendors became experts in pandemics the day after everything shut down. So we had to be very deliberate in looking at those. But quite honestly, from leveraging our strategic partnerships with Tom and the others, that's where we got our best information.

Anil Chitkara:

Yeah. Great. Thank you, Keith. Tom, how about you? What did you guys do at the Museum of Natural History? What are some of the specific changes that you made? What's your experience been as you made those changes?

Tom Slade:

Yeah, I'd like to first follow up a little bit what Keith just said. There were a lot of companies that rushed to the market with all sorts of devices that were designed for COVID. So we had to be careful because you're dealing with a lot of new products, as to what products can actually deliver on what they say. Very much like after 9/11 when bollards became the big thing in New York City. We rushed out to buy bollards as did many institutions, only to find that those products were rushed to market, had not been adequately tested and ultimately failed and had to be replaced.

Tom Slade:

So when we looked at technology, we looked it with that kind of perspective. We did as Keith said, and the other museums have done. We did do infrared screening for cameras. We have an Evolv system, so we pretty much have a touchless weapons search. The only change we made there was to make sure that bag checks, when we have to do a bag check, are done manually by using sticks and through plastic so that the guards don't have to touch something of that nature.

Tom Slade:

On the other side, the non-security side, the museum went to, as many places did, you have to buy your tickets online to try to reduce the amount of people that are touching things, to try to use more credit cards, scanning, so we don't have to take things from people. The biometric time and attendance system we had requires that you put in pin codes. That had to be changed to make it a swipe with your card, so you don't have to touch things of that nature. So the technology really went into ticket sales, visitors screening, with the primary things that we did.

Tom Slade:

The new thing we did, of course, was the visitor temperature check, which we presume will be for a period of time, and only brought out should we have other epidemics of this nature, because that also is folded into our security weapon screening and it does make for more complicated entrance. The last point I'd like to make is I think what Keith alluded to, is irrespective of the actual benefit of the temperature screening, it did make the public and the staff feel very, very secure. We got lots of compliments.

Tom Slade:

Even if it was a little bit of a backlog to get your temperature taken, the public appreciated it. We got a lot of compliments on it, and it did reassure our staff and the public. It was well worth the effort just for that one benefit, as well as the fact that while we have not detected anybody so far, that we've had to leave, it was beneficial in the long run because it did make people comfortable and people were uncomfortable coming back out after being home for five months, staff and visitors. So it really, really worked out well.

Anil Chitkara:

Yeah. Keith, you're nodding your head yet. You find the same at the Met?

Keith Prewitt:

Oh, absolutely. Tom's spot on. The one thing I think all of our organizations grapple with is, how do you provide a safe and secure environment and be welcoming? In some circles, that might be counterintuitive. To Tom's point, we wanted to make sure that all the protocols that were in place were as non-invasive as possible, but also allowed our visitors, our internal stakeholders, our external stakeholders, to come in with confidence and feel strongly about the protocols that were in place.

Anil Chitkara:

Lisa, how about at the Lincoln Center? What are some of the specific changes you've made there, and how have those changes played out as you've started reopening different parts of the campus?

Lisa Schroeder:

We're using a device to do temperature checks, as I said. Since we have so many different populations coming on campus, as we all do, we have the public, we have students in the Julliard and the SAB as I mentioned, and we have employees. It's important that each of those feel safe in their own venue, if you will. We've done a lot more separation and separate entrances, a lot more streamlining of what the ingress and egress looks like. And, of course, like we all said, the temperature screening and the health questionnaire.

Lisa Schroeder:

The temperature screening, and like Tom said, we weren't sure if that was going to be worth it or not, but not only is it worth it because it also discourages anyone who might have a temperature from coming, but everyone feels better knowing that, okay, no, one's here without having at least had a temperature check and gone through this initial health screening. Even though at the beginning we were like, "Should we do this or should we not?" It became well worth it once we moved forward with it.

Anil Chitkara:

Got it. Tom, you were mentioning this. I want to pick up on it, in some sense, there's so much information out there. It's hard to sort through what you should follow, what you should do. There's so many different companies pitching their whatever it is, their thermal screening or whatever their technology or device or approaches. I'm sure there's consultants that have come out that say they can tell you how to reopen. You talked about your organizations and potentially some others in New York working together.

Anil Chitkara:

What are some of the suggestions you would have for others in terms of helping to sort through what are the right technologies or people to talk to? What is, to the extent it's truth, what can be more truthful out there? How can they learn from one another? What are the types of resources that they can then use or some of the things you guys have done to try to figure out what path to go down?

Tom Slade:

Yeah. That's a bit of a challenge for new technology that are being rushed to market, so to speak, to handle something that nobody really anticipated. So there's not a lot of white papers out there. There are some that we could look at, but the main source we had, aside from having the manufacturers bring it into the building, set it up and we tested it, which we did for quite a number of things. And very quickly you can see whether it's effective or efficient. The primary source was to reach out to our colleagues.

Tom Slade:

What is Keith doing? What are you using? What is Bill De Blasio... Not Bill de Blasio, Larry DeBlasio, with respect to cameras and things. If you can find people that are using a product, that's your best source to reach out to them, "How is that product working? What do you like about it? What did it cost?" We did that for quite a lot of institutions in the city, and in fact, some in other states. And that's we landed on what systems we were going to use. Evolv also was very helpful with respect to thermal imaging. It was something they had been looking at and were aware even prior to the pandemic.

Tom Slade:

But it's a little hard when you're dealing with emerging technologies, to get a real quick and easy answer. Best if you can do, is you can reach out to people that are using a technology. That's going to be your best bet for trying to find out if it's effective.

Anil Chitkara:

Right. Keith, do you have anything to add to that in terms of helping to sort through what's the right technology? What are different things that should be looked at? What's some practical experience out there that you and your team could rely on?

Keith Prewitt:

No, I concur with what Tom just stated. Benchmarking, and that's the best way. I would submit, and Tom can correct me if I'm wrong on this, but for the six months that we were closed, our respective constituency, we were on the phone with one another for probably every day of the week for those six months. I think we wore each other out. But that just goes to show you how strong the partnerships are here in this city. And more importantly, the strategic alliances that we had with New York City office of emergency management, and police department, and fire department as well. They provided significant support and insight, if you will, to help us during the closure. But I concur with everything that Tom and Lisa just talked about. Yeah.

Anil Chitkara:

Lisa, I know Lincoln Center is the largest performing arts center, I believe, in the world. I know it's viewed as a leader by many others. Did you connect with other performing arts centers or an organization or institution that helped coordinate and share information?

Lisa Schroeder:

Sure. There's a Performing Arts consortium, PAC, that... They actually did a guidelines early on, that we were able to use also to check to be sure, what are we missing here? What kind of formats are people thinking about? It was very thorough. What we came to realize very quickly in this is that when you're backstage in any performing arts institution, people are just really packed in there. And all of a sudden, people don't even have one foot between them, much less six feet.

Lisa Schroeder:

So we did realize very early on that we're not going to be able to open the backstage of performing arts institutions for quite a while. It helped us also then to focus on the outdoors. I will say that Lincoln Center's in a bit of a unique position because we're renovating one of our largest halls, David Geffen Hall right now. And so, this also made us take a right turn on our renovation plans to say, "What shall we be thinking with technology to make this plan for a pandemic that might happen 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, with better ventilation systems and better touchless systems?" We have really started incorporating these new technologies and this pandemic planning in our building plans as well.

Anil Chitkara:

One of the things that we hear a lot about is contact tracing. It can help potentially reduce widespread exposure. I think, from what I've heard, it's complex. It's challenging to actually implement a proper contact tracing protocol. Lisa, Keith, Tom, have you guys implemented anything around contact tracing?

Lisa Schroeder:

It's probably easier for us because we don't have all the guests that the other museums have. But I will say that our entrances all have this device, that you have to do the health questionnaire on your phone and submit. And so, everybody who comes into our building, we have their name and contact information. If we had an outbreak, we have everyone... We keep it for two weeks to know who has been in our building for the last two weeks.

Anil Chitkara:

Keith, have you been implementing either contact tracing or this health pass idea, which is related to it as Lisa mentioned?

Keith Prewitt:

Yeah, it's similar to the protocol that Lisa just articulated. Obviously, we have a protocol in place for our staff, and volunteers, and other internal stakeholders. But we also leverage an external protocol, if you will, to help us with the visitors, through the visitor experience team.

Anil Chitkara:

Tom, how about at the Museum of Natural History?

Tom Slade:

Yes. We have a contact tracing program that's managed by human resources, but it's for employees, not for visitors. We had to update all employees' emergency contact numbers and names because employees frequently change. That had to be done. It was a formal process really aimed at, if an employee shows symptoms or if he's diagnosed with it, or he's in contact with a family member that's with it, then there's a process in the museum to determine who that person in the museum was in close association with for periods of time. And then that person is contacted. Then there's decisions made whether they need to be quarantined at home or whatever it might be.

Tom Slade:

The only other thing we did was all employees have to have temperature screening. It says it's through the use of an app. Obviously, if they have any of the symptoms or a series of symptoms, we would be aware of it, and then they have to stay home. That was how we did, but we don't have the ability to do any contact tracing of visitors coming in, as restaurants are required to do, because it's smaller numbers. We've not had yet since we've been open, any visitor coming in where we learned later they had it, nor have we had any, fortunately, staff that have come down with the symptoms yet. But if they do, we do have a contact tracing program for staff.

Anil Chitkara:

All right. We've talked a lot about different technologies and tactics that have been put in place to make your institution safer, reduce the public health risk, whether it's the timing ticketing, or touchless screening, or thermal cameras or whatnot. It's fundamentally being done to keep people safe, whether it's your staff or visitors and guests that are coming through there. I'd like to just hear from each of you a little bit about the human impact. Tom, maybe we'll start with you. You have thousands and thousands of people that traditionally come to the museum.

Anil Chitkara:

Traditionally, there are a lot of international visitors there as well, so things like signage and protocols that may be different here from where they might be coming from. But can you just talk a little bit about the impact on your visitors and guests that come into the museum? How are they feeling? What are the kinds of things you see differently now than from six months and 12 months ago?

Tom Slade:

Well, I think, like our fellow institutions, the feedback from the visitors has been very, very strong, very high, because we limit the numbers that come in. There is significant amount of social distancing, signage everywhere. Some narrow cars are one way, some high-touch areas are temporarily closed. While we were closed for so many months, the entire building was so deep cleaned and disinfected, floor shine. So when you walk in, the place was pristine, and I'm sure that's true at the Met.

Tom Slade:

When people walk in and they see a clean place, where they see signage posted, they see staff wearing masks, they see staff complying, and they see staff being very welcoming, we've gotten nothing but positive reactions. And I think the businesses are very assured when they come in, that they're in a safe a place as possible. For staff, the same thing, except we did a formal training program over a five-day period prior to opening, to reassure the staff that the museum has done everything possible to make sure that they are safe and that they would understand the changes in the way we deal with visual to come back, and that really paid off.

Tom Slade:

The staff coming back were I think nervous that some had been furloughed for five months, and the training program developed by human resources and the other departments really turned out to be a very valuable way of reassuring staff. It was well worth the significant effort that was involved in creating the training product, because it was a significant training program. It went on for a couple of days.

Anil Chitkara:

Keith, how about at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? What has the impact been on both your staff and the guests? As Lisa said, she was one of those that came through. What was the impact? What are you seeing?

Keith Prewitt:

Well, I have to pay Lisa for that endorsement, going forward. I really appreciate her perspective. Like all the organizations represented here, our visitors, our patrons, our staff, they're the lifeblood of your organization and the institution. And so, clearly, they have to feel comfortable coming back. Trust me, just like Tom and Lisa both alluded to earlier, I'm quite sure there was significant fear and trepidation when the doors reopened.

Keith Prewitt:

But I think the best feedback that we've received from our visitors is the fact that the Met normally averages anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 visitors a day. That's gone down significantly to about 4,000. The visitors' response is the experience is so... It feels like it's a private showing almost. And so, that is worth its weight in gold in of itself, just to have our visitors walk away with, they feel special coming back to a place like this. Two million square feet can compress pretty quickly when you have 15 to 20,000 people a day in your facility.

Anil Chitkara:

Lisa, how about at Lincoln Center? What have you seen there in terms of the impact? That's a little different. You have employees, obviously, but you have students, and it's a slightly different group given where you are and your reopening place.

Lisa Schroeder:

Right. Exactly. The negative human impact is still being felt as far as artists and production staff are concerned. We miss our colleagues. Just like you guys had furloughed employees for five months, we've had people who are still on furlough and with really no date that we know that we can come back as far as artists and production staff. We are excited to be able to do the limited amounts of things we can do on the Plaza.

Lisa Schroeder:

We're very excited to welcome students back, which are just happening right now in September and October. We have the space to allow those few that are coming back, like Keith just mentioned, to spread out. We were able to have Julliard students have special place on the Plaza to enjoy some studying space and some lunch space. But we are still a little bit grieving the fact that we can't do the performing arts, so we can't have the artists back.

Anil Chitkara:

Yeah. I want to talk a little bit about the near future. There is still a lot of uncertainty. We don't know what happens with the virus rates. The vaccine scenario is still uncertain, but hopefully, at some point, we'll be back to something that is closer to normal. But as you look out the next three and six and nine months, what do you see? How are you planning for it? How are you trying to continue to make your organizations resilient? Maybe Lisa, I'll stay with you. If you can share what you're doing at Lincoln Center.

Lisa Schroeder:

Sure. Well, like I mentioned, we're doing this major renovation and we're really trying to be forward-looking on how to make that a safer place to gather. We are making plans to do as much outdoors as possible in the spring because we think that, frankly, we are all safer outside. So what we can offer next spring, on our campus, we're going to make strong plans to do outside because we don't really think we're going to feel comfortable indoors until a number of us can be vaccinated as far as in a performing arts setting because you're sitting there, you're stagnant, you're around people. And it's just not an environment that is recommended at this time.

Lisa Schroeder:

So our view is, look outside, do everything we can do outside, and then plan for gray re-openings, but probably not until many of us can be vaccinated.

Anil Chitkara:

Keith, what do you see at the Met? How do you see it unfolding, potentially, over the next few months?

Keith Prewitt:

Well, Anil, one of the things we started is a pretty robust after-action process. It's a perpetual after-action process because this pandemic isn't over. But we're taking the lessons that we learned thus far to help us with our planning efforts going forward. Just to echo something that Lisa just said, incorporating certain things that we've learned into the construction projects, as well as any of the enhancements that we're doing security wise, taking into account that the world's going to be a little bit different going forward. And so we have to incorporate these things in our strategies. But that's where we are.

Anil Chitkara:

Tom, how about you at the American Museum of Natural History? How do you see things unfolding over the next few months?

Tom Slade:

Well, there's two things. The first would be we would love to increase our visitor attendance for many purposes, including revenue. We are somewhat constrained by the government regulations as to what we can go from 25% to 50% or longer. As we get approval to go higher in the visitation rates, that will then put some stress on our one-way turnstiles and some of the closures we have. It will also put some stress on the enforcement we have of the social distancing rules when we get more people. So that's something that we're thinking about how to handle.

Tom Slade:

The other thing I think we'll see going forward, we'll see more Zoom meetings. People are getting used to them. They're convenient. You don't have to walk two acres across the campus to get to a meeting. I think we're going to see continued and probably increased online tours of the museum, online educational because we are big educational organization. So a lot of the programs we offer that can't be done on site are being offered online. I think we will see the digital tours and the digital stuff continue and increasing because it's fairly effective.

Tom Slade:

I think those are the two things that I think, for the procedural future, we'll see, until we get back to a normalcy. When that will happen, when everything goes away, nobody knows. But I think the thinking most people is we're talking about way into next year before things get anywhere close to being normal. It would be wonderful if they have vaccines and treatment plans that will accelerate that. So we have to stay positive. We try to tell staff to be positive about this. This will come to an end sometime. But we also have to be realistic that it could be a lot longer than we all would like to say.

Anil Chitkara:

Yeah. Lisa, I know there's been some creative things that you've done at Lincoln Center, I think I've seen, to bring some performances out into the city. Could you talk about some of the different things you've done?

Lisa Schroeder:

Sure. Yeah. The New York Phil did the Philharmonic Bandwagon, which did pop up performances around town, literally from the back of a pickup truck. So that's a lot of fun. What we do is try and do some things where we can have 40 people or less spread out outside. The ballet is doing some amazing choreography on the campus right now, that they'll incorporate into their digital season. Lincoln Center does a lot of education, as all of these institutions do.

Lisa Schroeder:

And so, we did these pop-up classrooms, really to help parents and teachers have some curriculum and some fun musical and performing arts classes throughout the summer and into the fall. So I think we're all trying to enrich the lives of our constituencies as much as we can, without all getting together and breathing on each other.

Anil Chitkara:

Keith, how about you at the Met? I'm sure you've done some things to bring your art out to the community in different ways.

Lisa Schroeder:

Yep. Here they have a very significant digital program, and the entire collection, as encyclopedic as it is, is offered digitally. The digital team and the specialized admission team, they've been partnered up to make that presentation, much more robust than it has been in the past. They continue to evolve that and it's been receiving huge accolades.

Anil Chitkara:

Great. As we start to think and wrap this up, the discussion's been very, very informative, very interesting to me. I find it interesting about things that will change in the future, things that we've done differently that may endure beyond. So I'd be very curious for each of you to talk about one of the changes that may have been driven by or inspired by COVID, that you think once we're beyond this, once we have the virus under control, and at that point in the future that we're all looking forward to, you think will endure. You think is an unintended benefit of what we've gone through. Tom, maybe we'll start with you.

Tom Slade:

Well, yes. There will be some that go forward. I think our visitor screening coming in will probably be altered to stay more contactless, even if the COVID goes away, because it's just nicer and more user-friendly. I think some of the restrictions we put in with respect to locker room use and limiting the number of people in locker rooms and in break rooms and common areas will probably continue because, while it was done because of government regulations and social distancing, it also had the impact of taking areas that tend to be very crowded and making them more pleasant for staff.

Tom Slade:

It also resulted in our finding other areas where people would take breaks, for example. I think we'll probably continue with that because it's nicer to have more room for your breaks and less people in your locker room. It's just a more pleasant experience. So I think even when the pandemic goes away, we'll probably continue to do that. Some of that was staggering dress times and changing shifts slightly. We'll probably continue doing that because it made for a more comfortable environment for the staff and for the managers that are running those operations.

Tom Slade:

What else continues aside from probably more Zoom meetings and things of that nature? There will be some working at home. Will continue for a period of time and maybe permanently. That's pretty much what I can see at the moment. But who knows? There maybe things around the corner that we're not even yet being prepared for, that may change that and result and continue something we're doing now. I think the whole restrictions will probably go away because they do restrict people's quiet enjoyment of the museum. So some of the one-way paths and limitations at certain dioramas, I think where we can safely have them go away, we will because it increases the quiet enjoyment of the public.

Anil Chitkara:

Great. Lisa, how about at Lincoln Center? What do you think will endure there?

Lisa Schroeder:

I'd say necessity is the mother of invention. With a lot of furloughs and layoffs, we've had to streamline some of our processes and use technology wiser, just in our administrative processes. So I think that will continue. We'll just try and say, what were we doing before that maybe we didn't have to do, or what are we doing smarter now that we have to, because we have less people? So we're really taking a hard look to say where we can find those areas to streamline and make the whole back of the office, if you will, work smarter.

Anil Chitkara:

Great. Hey, Keith, how about at the Met, what'll continue on?

Keith Prewitt:

I can only just say ditto to everything that has been said already. But the concept that will endure will be the spirit of commitment, the spirit of community and engagement. I think that will endure. I think there is a strong, strong urge and desire by the staff here to make sure that we put our all in, 150%, to make sure we provide our visitors with the best experience.

Anil Chitkara:

That's great. Thank you, Keith. One thing that is clear to me after this session is each of you in your organizations, and then your organizations together, have been tremendously collaborative, Keith, as you just said. I mean, it's really nice to see. I'm a New Yorker. I was born there. I live there. It's great to see New York coming back, but it's great to see people getting together and helping figure this out together. Here we're talking about institutions in New York, but I'm hoping that happens in Miami, and Chicago, and LA, and all over the country, not just within their cities, but with each of their colleagues across the US, because it's hard.

Anil Chitkara:

It's a dynamic environment. It's changing very frequently, and there's a lot of really good lessons that have been learned and are shared. And that's one of the things we're trying to do with this series. I want to thank Keith, Lisa, and Tom for your time, for your insights that you shared here. It really is amazing to think about all the factors and all the factions you've balanced to try to navigate and help navigate your organizations through this, and to reopen, and to get people back into your venues, and to get smiles on people's faces again.

Anil Chitkara:

So thank you for all that you've done there and for sharing some of that with us here today. I want to thank each of you that's listening, for the work you're doing to keep people safe, to try to create an experience where they can get back to your specific institutions, whether it's employees, or guests, or visitors, or fans, or staff, or students, or whomever it is. It's very hard work, but we all want to get back to living our lives, frankly.

Anil Chitkara:

Thank you to each of you out there listening, and finally, stay safe and stay healthy, and never stop keeping your venues safe and making it enjoyable for people to come in and visit them. Thank you everybody.

The Digital Threshold

Enabling Adaptability for Years to Come

Digital transformation is unlocking efficiency and value everywhere as organizations reimagine archaic processes and technology, better equipping themselves with interoperable and flexible capabilities. Within the Digital Threshold vision, venues and facilities can intelligently use data to create a frictionless experience for guests and employees. The result is an entry process that enhances the overall experience instead of diminishing it as it so often does today. Making weapons screening faster and more precise is part of the Digital Threshold vision, but it’s just the beginning.