BEATING HEARTS AGENCY: COVID CHALLENGES AND RESPONSE
We suddenly realised that the situation around the Coronavirus was beginning to get serious when at the end of February Italy started quarantining towns hit by the outbreak and their events/public gatherings began to cancel, which left us facing a lot of uncertainties surrounding what impact the pandemic will have in the UK/live music industry and how we could deal with the challenges that lay ahead of us.
All our lives have been negatively impacted in one way or another due to COVID-19, be it personally or professionally and every day has highlighted new (currently) unanswerable questions for us.
This month we will be exploring the challenges that we have faced and shared some of the actions we have taken to overcome them and have tried in preparation for the future.
CHALLENGES WITHIN BEATING HEARTS
· Time management – still as busy as we would usually be this time of year but for different reasons!
· Most of the industry has either furloughed their staff until the end of June, have paused/not currently operating, or just ticking along as best they can which has also led to a cut in hours.
· We have not wanted to come across as pushing or persistent to others for updates for what is happening as no one really knows at this point.
· Our plans as an agency has changed for 2020 as all our confirmed shows from the middle of March onwards have been rescheduled, with the possibility of being moved again.
· Artists expectations - most are understandably keen to continue to book shows and announce changes, but everything is slow due to the unknown nature of the pandemic.
· Can the agency survive this? Should we consider temporarily retraining or finding alternative work until the live music industry is operational again?
· No end date so cannot tell when it will be safe to attend public spaces/gatherings again meaning we are unsure when in our diaries to book future shows.
· What will events look like and how can we social distance appropriately, what measures will be put in place to protect the attendees and everyone working on them?
· The damage this will have on the economy and how this will affect our spending habits, will people have the spare income to afford to make any luxury purchases like gig tickets? Even if someone could afford to, when will they feel safe enough to attend public gatherings again?
· How long will it take for us to recover from this as an industry?
· How many venues will survive the threat of imminent closure due to the crisis? This is the very real reality that 80% of the UK’s venues face right now.
· Will festivals/promoters/other companies we work with survive?
· How will this affect bookings for my artists moving forward? If a venue cannot sell as many tickets due to capacity changes around social distancing regulations will fees be cut? Fewer venues will mean fewer show opportunities too. Will promoters/bookers take less of a chance on an up and coming artists to guarantee to sell out shows? Their show costs will not change but revenue from them will.
DIFFERENCE OF OPINION REGARDING THE PANDEMIC
· We all have our own opinions regarding the way the government has been handling the situation which has also meant that there is a varying amount of feelings around when and how the live music industry will start up again.
· Others personal interpretations around the government’s advice and guidelines and feeling comfortable on taking a gamble on their health.
· The amount of conflicting information available surrounding the virus. We have all been guilty of sharing/reposting information without looking into the facts around it.
· We may be on the way down from the ‘peak’, but will we experience a second wave? If we do, how long will this lengthen us working towards regaining some normality to our lives?
· When will it end? For us, the not knowing is the most frustrating part about the whole pandemic!
· The length of time before a vaccine will be ready and/or we have specific medicine available that will save lives. How will life look between now and then?
· There have been some financial support available through government schemes but as this continues into the latter part of the year will the support continue.
· MENTAL HEALTH – Stress, anxiety, frustration, coping with emotions around the change in lifestyle/loss of work, being able to continue making improvements around confidence.
· PHYSICAL – Ear infections, concerns about contracting COVID-19 whilst working as a keyworker, TMJ and other stress-related issues, being able to continue to become healthier.
· Managing other people’s emotions through their recent experiences and being able to support them through this time.
· Can be hard to stay motivated, productive, and active in the office at times.
· Adapting to a change in routine – Husband now WFH too and suddenly have weekends off for a bit!
· Handling our (vastly different) coping mechanisms in the household and finding a balance.
HOW HAVE WE WORKED TOWARDS OVERCOMING THESE CHALLENGES?
· We have continued planning, creating a daily routine, weekly schedules and to-do lists for our personal and professional lives.
· We have been putting our heads together to create solutions for managing the change in our workload and adapting tasks.
· Spent some of this downtime updating 2020’s action plan, repositioning goals and looking at how we can make improvements moving forward.
· COVID-19 pinpointed a few weak spots in the business that we are now in the process of improving on.
· We have been checking in with others and take part in various virtual coffee mornings with others. It has given us the opportunity to discuss challenges, research points of view and sharing ideas on how we are all managing.
· Have been keeping our artists updated on what is happening in the industry, how we are managing the agency during this time including any updates on us individually.
· Kept updated on news/reports/information surrounding the pandemic. We have questioned and researched sources on reports and listened to scientific/medical facts.
· Terri-Sian has created a positivity list to document everything great that has happened since the crisis started, including personal achievements, and completed goals.
· Ensuring that we look after ourselves by eating a balanced diet, keeping active, making sure we get enough rest, admitting when we need to take time out and not being slack with personal care.
· Continue with training opportunities with online courses and virtual business workshops/network events.
· We have been exploring how we can develop in different ways both personally and professionally.
· Offered to help others by listening, offering advice, helping with tasks, purchasing items from local/small businesses and donated to various venues who are part of the Save Our Venues Campaign and artists who are unable to make an income from shows.
· We have spoken to medical professionals regarding their advice and opinions around COVID-19 and have been listening to medical/scientific professionals.
· We have taken responsibility for our own actions around adhering to the guidelines set by the government.
· We have been keeping in regular contact with our industry professional friends regarding their individual plans around how they are dealing with things their end and how they see the situation progressing.
FINAL THOUGHT: Due to our own experiences and opinions, we are passionate around our views on how the crisis has been handled and I personally feel we should still be in a full lockdown at this stage and until we’re at a point that New Zealand was at before they started relaxing their restrictions.
Preserving life and protecting the vulnerable are top of our lists and we will do everything we can to ensure this happens and if that means holding off from live events until that point, then we are prepared to do so.
In the meantime, we are looking at ways of getting involved in discussions around the issues the live music industry face and work on solutions at how we can safely get our artists back out there, how we can be supporting venues and continue keeping our fans safe in the process!
Look at what happened when the original Jurassic Park was opened before it was ready…
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