Been up to much lately?
For some it’s a resounding yes – everything is back to normal after the pandemic. For others, it’s a bit more meh (hey, 2007 just called and it wants its cutting ambivalence back).
It’s been over a year since the last Covid restrictions were lifted. But are we all out enjoying ourselves as much as we want to be?
Here’s a hypothetical person (you can make up your own name for them). This person is desperate to make up for lost time; they’ve done more staying in than they ever thought possible, and it still rankles. They are totally going to be at the show.
But then, they wonder if the venue will be well ventilated and if public transport will be super crowded. They have a niggling health condition that they keep at the back of the cupboard like an old bottle of tabasco sauce. The sting starts to set in. Should they really go after all?
Then we have Person B (didn’t like your naming choice). Person B, as you might expect, is different. They’ve already been out plenty of times. It’s fine! They’re having a great time, thanks.
We’ve emerged into a phase where our differences around socialising haven’t yet converged. Helen Stead, festival director of Nottingham Comedy Festival noted recently that “some people are a still a bit wary” around event attendance, and pointed out that for their last festival in 2021 most sales came at the last minute. Others, such as Aiden Canaday, who promotes several shows a month under the Divine Schism banner, said that back in Autumn 2021 people “often wore masks, but that kind of changed pretty quickly.”
Like Nottingham Comedy Festival, some promoters have noticed their advanced sales have been slower than they used to be. Instead of buying months before, more people are buying their tickets in the 48 hours preceding the event, perhaps nervous of a new Covid spike or of being sick themselves. We’ve also noticed an uptick in customers taking out Ticketplan protection, to ensure they’re entitled to a full refund in case of illness.
It’s clear that event organisers need to consider this new anxiety that some of their customers may have. So how can we encourage people back out?
Great marketing and linking to your ticket pages is as important as ever to create a buzz about your show, but try and also include some information about any measures that will help put people at ease
Your more nervous customers might need a bit of a (sanitised) helping hand up from the armchair. Making sure the venue is as well ventilated as possible will benefit customers and performers alike – as will fostering a friendly and respectful atmosphere to anyone still wearing a mask or looking to keep a little bit of (social) distance between them and other audience members.
The lockdowns have taught us a lot about how much we need to be in company and how much we need art, music, performance right there in front of us. We need to communicate with it and have it speak to us.
Event organisers are those who naturally bring people together You are the promoters, venue operators, committee organisers, tour guides, course tutors, charity fundraisers and party animals who put on events.
You’re doing it right now. And we salute you.