With it dominating the news cycle for the past couple of weeks, you would have to have been on another planet not to have heard about the COVID-19 pandemic. In all the years we have been working in events we have never had to deal with a situation like this and to be honest, it feels like a bit of a minefield, one wrong step and people could get badly hurt. We have been watching as friends who work in corporate events are getting offered voluntary redundancy or being asked to take extended leave without pay. We have watched as swing event organisers from all over the world struggle with what is right and proper to do so now we are struggling with what is right and proper to do and have started playing the ‘What If’ game.
- What if the pandemic in the UK gets much worse?
- What if sales for our events dry up?
- What if we are forced to cancel by the government?
- What if the event goes ahead and people get ill?
- What if dancers become “super spreaders”?
- What if we are forced or choose to cancel and we lose our payments to our venues and other suppliers, many of which are payments in full.
- What if dancers don’t turn up to my event
- What if the teachers won’t come
- What if
- What if
- What if
You know sometimes we just need to stop, remind ourselves to breathe and not let ourselves get swept up in the tide of panic that has seen people fighting over toilet paper in supermarkets. Honestly – why toilet paper?
The very worst thing we can do right now is panic. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is no doubt that this is affecting many people around the globe and there is no doubt that in a very few cases where there are underlying conditions the virus can prove to be extremely serious. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that for the majority of people who contract COVID-19 they will be ill for a few days and will recover. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously, we absolutely should with the correct amount of perspective. I would highly recommend getting your information and news from credible sources. There is a lot of misinformation out there especially on Facebook and other social media.
Here are some sources you may find helpful:
- Coronavirus Cases, Risks and Handwashing Advice
- Coronavirus Health Advice UK
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – what you need to know
- UK Government Action Plan
We can agree that we all need to do our bit. Obviously we need to follow the advice coming from the government and do everything we can on a personal level to help reduce the spread of the virus. There is no doubt that the virus will spread and that we will see a peak in the UK. So right now it is about flattening out that peak so everyone can cope from the NHS workers and doctors especially but all our emergency services and even ourselves.
It has been a difficult decision to put the breaks on LSF and announce postponement but at the same time we feel a sense of relief. We honestly believe that postponing and NOT cancelling is the very best thing to do for all concerned. The reason for this is because we are really keen that our ticket holders should get the full value of their ticket. If we had cancelled eveyone would have only recieved a percentage of their ticket value back and we were not confortable with this option.
We know it’s just dance, and we know in world terms it doesn’t seem that important but when you break it down there is actually quite a lot riding on swing events. They need to, at the very least, break even. Putting aside relationships with venues and suppliers that are important in order to be able to keep running these events, these organisations are often small businesses or community based and cannot afford to take a hit. It is more importantly the livelihoods and incomes of those involved that matter most. The teachers that travel the world to come and share their expertise with us are dependent on events such as ours for their living. Likewise the bands we hire. These are talented people who also make their living through gigs such as LSF. Then there are the event organisers. In the case of LSF neither of us are getting paid a lot, we do mainly out of love but the prospect of not getting paid at all despite all the work we have put in is quite depressing. Then going even further, what about the organisation we work for? Can they afford to take a hit? There are so many people, teachers, HQ admin and management that are dependent either in part or in whole for their income from them. Can they afford to take a massive hit at a time when business is down generally with classes getting cancelled all the time from the same threat.
So then, is there a time to panic? No, not really! There is however a time to take appropriate action, which we what we hope we are doing. In terms of contracting the virus itself all we can say is please please please follow the guidelines set out by the Chief Medical Officer and the NHS. In terms of dancing and dance events what you do on a day to day basis is up to you as an individual. As organisers we think we have no choice but to take action and try our best to work through the consequences.
At a time like this the best we can hope for is a whole bunch of understanding. Understanding from our venues and suppliers that will help us to navigate our way through this with minimal loss. Understanding from our ticket holders that we are doing the very best we can to make responsible decisions under such difficult circumstances.. Finally, understanding from the community in general towards all organisers for how hard this is proving to be.
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Stay safe, and let’s look after each other
Much love Pippa & Michaela