Leadership / 02.10.21
5 Ways Ticketing and Event Pros Are Staying Positive One Year Into the Pandemic
One of my all-time favorite TV characters is John C. McGinley’s Dr. Perry Cox on the hospital sitcom, “Scrubs.” Cox was often sarcastic and patronizing to those around him, especially Zach Braff’s young attending physician J.D. But he also had a tart and funny way of looking at life overall. Who were the types of people he found most annoying? Optimists! Or, more specifically in his words, “naïve, bubble-headed optimists who walk around vomiting sunshine.”
Well, the eight ticketing and live event professionals interviewed for this article are neither naïve nor bubble headed. And they have had their optimism challenged in the last year in ways they could never have imagined at the start of 2020. But they have persevered. How? By staying positive. By doing positive things. By keeping their eye on the future.
Talking with them, I was able to glean five ways for the rest of us to stay positive as we enter the second year of the COVID-19 era:
1. Improve Your Venue.
Venue operators around the country have been using the past months’ downtime to improve their physical venues. One of them is Deborah Randall, founder of the Venus Theatre in Laurel, Maryland. “For me, the pandemic has presented an opportunity to revision my company,” she says. “Our aesthetic has been a sweat-equity-grunge, and that simply won’t work anymore. So, we are donating almost everything we have. We are working to get a state-of-the-art HVAC system in our space and an ADA-compliant restroom in the lobby. If we were producing, none of this would be possible. We will take this year to revision and rebuild, and we look forward to a brand-new aesthetic in 2022.”
Timothy E. Locklear, Managing Artistic Director for the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre (NRACT) in North Carolina, has embraced technology to keep his community theater’s name out there and revenue coming in. “Immediately going into survival mode, we created virtual events for our patrons,” he says. “We creatively developed our education program for our students for virtual classes and performances.”
Susan Rodenbeck, Ticketing Services Manager for the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, and her staff turned to the history of their grand venue. They have been giving tours of the landmark theater, which they had not done in years. “I have had the pleasure of assisting with these tours, answering questions, and hearing people’s stories about their first date (usually in the balcony), proposal, or just the ‘when I was a kid’ kind of stories,” she says. “The theatre is 92 years old, so there are many stories!”
Rodenbeck has also investigated acquiring new equipment to be used in Tennessee Theatre’s box office “to make our jobs easier and much more contactless.” She has also helped staff the venue’s pop-up gift shops around town. “I’ve really enjoyed seeing our good customers loving and supporting the theatre by buying coffee mugs, posters and T-shirts.”
2. Hone Your Leadership Skills.
Locklear has been readying for an eventual return to “normal” by connecting with other colleagues who have been weathering the same storms he has. “As a leader,” he says, “I have found positivity in this time to develop relationships with other theater leaders in the Triangle area. We have formed groups to address equity in theatre for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women. I have also read scripts, books and researched areas, during this downtime, to help make me a better leader in my position.”
3. Maintain Your Human Connections.
Not being able to take in a show or a game or a concert has taken its toll on many. Not being able to staff such events has been even more taxing. People need people. No one knows this any better than Ebony Hattix, Senior Manager-Box Office at the FedExForum in Memphis. She has not lost touch with any of her pals. If anything, she’s grown even closer to many of them during this time of social distancing and isolation. “My positive thing has been communicating with friends,” she says. “I have continued to strengthen my friendships, some to the point where we are family. We have texted, called, Slacked and Facebook stalked each other!”
4. Stay Fit.
One of the biggest challenges for many during the COVID-19 crisis has been a distinct lack of mobility. Working from home offices where there isn’t much distance between your bedroom and home office, sofa and laptop computer, etc. Ryan Meyer, the PGA TOUR’s Director of Ticketing Services, had three simple words when asked what he’s been doing to stay positive in the time of coronavirus: “Ride my Peloton!”
Christina Allen, Senior Manager, Box Office for the Ottawa Senators, shares that passion for fitness. “I am usually one of those unabashedly positive people,” she says. “But to be honest, I really struggled throughout the first few months of the pandemic and fell for the ‘I see the light at the end of tunnel.’ But that light was a train, and I got squished. Since then, I’ve made a concerted effort to remain positive, and the one thing that’s helped is a daily walk after work. Especially while working from home, it just gives me that time to process the day and create that break between work and home.”
Christine Payne, INTIX’s Media, PR and Marketing Director, recommends, “My suggestion is get outside. Stretch your legs, even if it’s freezing cold and you have to bundle up in snow pants and wrap a scarf around your face, like I’ve had to do the past few days. While you’re out there, wave at someone across the street, chat up a neighbor (or stranger) or pet a dog … if you can while remaining physically distant from its Paw-rent. Haha! Just move. You’ll be glad you did.
5.If It Feels Good, Do It.
Those interviewed for this article cited everything from Netflix binging to catching up on books they’d be meaning to read for years as ways to stay positive and stay sane. “I like to take drives,” Rodenbeck says. “East Tennessee has some beautiful views in every season. It gets me out of the house and lifts my spirits.”
“I’ve discovered meditation and self-care,” Locklear says. “The tools I am continuing to learn have helped me focus on the positive things in life that matter most and should help me in my leadership.”
For Tisha Howard, a corporate and television stage manager who works Carolina Hurricanes NHL games at PNC Arena, it’s also all about superior attitude and superior state of mind. “I stay positive knowing that this too shall pass. It might look different, but the opportunity to be back to doing what I love will happen. Knowing that my family is safe and healthy is what is important now.”
You May Also Like
Want news like this delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to the Access Weekly newsletter, your ticket to industry excellence.
Tags: Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus