Venues that are able to diversify their content offering will provide a level of sustainability and growth potential in a post-COVID world, according to the former chief operating officer of Royal Albert Hall.

Jasper Hope, who was also previously the chief executive of Dubai Opera, told TheTicketingBusiness that while varying programming is not an option for every venue, it would add “enormous strength” to those with the capability.

It should also be something that is considered during the design and building phase of a new project as it at least offers the potential to keep options open, he adds.

“I was excited to work on a project from the ground up,” said Hope, who was brought in 18 months prior to the opening day for Dubai Opera in 2016. “Our strategy was based on quality and variety, with those factors shaping all our decisions.

“The Royal Albert Hall and Dubai Opera both offer a varied programme for fans, which is a major asset for both venues.”

The London-based venue hosts concerts, ballet, film screenings and more, while the UAE venue hosts theatre shows, live music and conferences, among several other uses.

Hope felt fortunate to have been brought into the Dubai project at such an early stage, allowing him to impact several areas and help to shape decisions such as audience flow, artist experience, as well as the backstage and on stage experience, which all go towards making people feel comfortable.

However, he circled back to the idea that “it’s all about content” and noted that a venue is “only as good as the artists and shows it puts on.”

Hope added: “As Dubai was a brand new entertainment market, we had to very quickly establish what the audiences wanted by engaging with locals, and decided to cover lots of different genres. Dubai is a dynamic market with a very cosmopolitan and diverse population.”

Hope, who is now a consultant in the industry, is currently working with a range of clients from Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among others. He has continued to work with Expo 2020, which was originally scheduled to open in October 2020 and run to April 2021 in Dubai, and is involved with them from a programming perspective. The event has now been moved back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image: Chris Down