March 13, 2020Deciding to cancel or postpone an event is a difficult undertaking and communicating that decision can be tough. In an effort to slow/stop the spread of COVID-19, it may be your job to communicate this decision with the performers, artists and agencies you've worked with for weeks, months or years. Where do you start? How do you approach these conversations with empathy towards the livelihoods of those in the entertainment industry while also honoring your institution's expectations?This is an unprecedented circumstance we are all facing – everyone is dealing with difficult decisions and financial loss – but the live entertainment business is all about relationships. It's time to roll up our sleeves, thoroughly wash our hands, and work together so everyone comes out on the other side of this shared crisis with minimal loss.If your school hasn't made any decisions yet and you work with a middle agent for your event, don't be afraid to ask them the "what if" questions. They will walk you through your contract language and let you know how others are dealing with the situation.If your campus has decided to cancel or postpone events, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
Retain Relationships. Pick up the phone. Talk to your middle agent, the agency, or entity with which you are working to discuss your situation. You may need to follow up in writing, but phone conversations are personable and necessary at a time like this in order to maintain strong relationships.
Reschedule. With no foreseeable end date to COVID-19, this may not be possible, but if you are able to reschedule to a future date or to the fall, try your best to do so. If you intend to reschedule but must wait to determine a date, make your rescheduling intentions known. Making good on these dates should be your first priority when you are able to book again. Ask about applying the deposit towards future bookings. Every bit could help during challenging times.
Reimburse. Be willing to pay for an artist's out-of-pocket expenses at a minimum. Your legal team may argue against this, but those that will come out with the most intact relationships in the end will try to get artists paid for their real and true expenses. Professional relationships, working together and finding mutually beneficial outcomes have been crucial to NACA since its founding. Remembering our core values of stewardship, innovation, communication, respect, learning and inclusivity can help us navigate these challenging times.
Related Professional Competencies: Crisis Management, Networking & Business Relationships, Institutional Culture and Expectations