Leadership / 03.24.21
How INTIX’s Board Members Spent Their Pandemic
We’ve now passed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 taking hold and causing everything from Broadway to go dark to 2020’s March Madness college basketball tournament to be canceled. Practically all live events were impacted, of course, along with the lives of countless people who work and staff those shows, games and performances.
It would be easy to write a column of sadness, lament and regret. But the truth is, despite the many hardships, life has gone on during the COVID-19 crisis. And there have been joys to be had, bright spots to bask in and new roads taken. We recently talked with some of INTIX’s board members to get their takes on what has been their greatest joy or success during the pandemic. Their responses were, as you would expect, varied but insightful.
Joys in the Time of Coronavirus
Eric Valley, Senior Partner at TICTACTIX, says, “My greatest joy was to see my two older children pick up instruments this year. In our youth, my wife and I were both performing musicians and always wondered why the kids were not interested in music. They both started school music in September, and it was great to see their progress, how proud it made them and how it has enhanced their self-esteem. The high point was when we played together. As we had given up on this years ago, I never thought it would happen. But it did, and we all enjoyed it!”
Increased family time has also been a high point for Josh Ziegenbusch, Senior Director of Service and Retention for the Oakland A’s. He has loved being home with Oliver, his 4-year-old son. “With the demands of an MLB season, I would normally be at the ballpark for much of the summer, and the quarantine provided a chance to be home with him,” he says. “He’s obsessed with watching garbage trucks on YouTube, and we keep our neighborhood clean by going on daily walks to pick up any trash we come across.”
Keeping the neighborhood clean has been something Peter I’anson, Business Development Manager for Secure My Booking, and his partner have also taken upon themselves, especially after adopting their pet Chihuahua, Toby. “Having a dog made us spend more time walking around our local area,” he says. “I have become obsessed with litter picking when we take our dog on walks. His walks have now become a mission to pick up a sack of recyclable waste every day from our local streets and park.”
For several of the INTIX board members interviewed for this feature, they found the greatest joy in still being able to connect with others. Aren Murray, who has served as Director of Ticketing at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, says, “I have absolutely loved hosting the INTIX Zoom social parties and seeing everyone laughing and finding joy in the midst of their worry and isolation. The way in which everyone has been open to being authentic and dropping their masks has blessed us all with a feeling of connection that we have not seen before.”
Christina “Chrissy” Allen, Senior Manager, Box Office at Senators Sports & Entertainment in Canada, was equally jubilant. “Even in the roughest weeks,” she says, “I knew I had my Friday call with my box office friends from Scotiabank Arena and Rogers Centre. Some weeks, it’s comparing notes or helping each other solve a challenge we are facing. Other weeks, it’s straight-up ticketing therapy. All our organizations have experienced furloughs at different points during the past year. And when the going got tough, we leaned on each other and started weekly calls. Even on the toughest weeks, it was a little ray of sunshine sneaking in to give me joy!”
Others found great joy and release in physical activity. One such INTIX board member is Shawn Robertson, Ticket Sales Director for Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. He says, “For the first few months, especially here in California, we were locked down pretty quick. One of the first physical activities I could return to was to play tennis. It gave me joy to be able to get it out, socially distance and see my friends without putting anyone at risk. Also, from a weight gain standpoint, I needed to do something!”
A member of the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance, he continues, “I’ve competed in tournaments around the country, Canada, and even the U.K. I’m not good. I just pay an entry fee and they allow me to play in their tournaments. The places my closest friends come from are my INTIX colleagues and co-workers and then my tennis world. One of the sad parts about the pandemic is I haven’t been able to see my friends from different parts of the country.”
Allen has also put her body in motion. In 2020, she became determined to walk a 5K. “I run for no one,” she says. “With gyms closed, I spent a lot of time outside walking. When I saw that Rookie, the puppy the Ottawa Senators were raising to become a CNIB guide dog, was hosting a virtual 5K ‘Pup Crawl’ in support of CNIB Guide Dogs, I signed up. It was a great motivation to get out of the house, walk every day and explore the neighborhood as I tried to map out my 5K path. I completed the walk in May, and when my post-walk medal arrived in the mail, I hung it up at my front door as a little reminder to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
New Hobbies, Skills and Pursuits
We also asked our INTIX board members if they developed a new hobby, picked up a new skill, completed a long-delayed project or accomplished something they would not have otherwise been able to, had it been business as usual this past year. Again, their responses were wonderfully varied.
I’anson of Secure My Booking has enjoyed his additional time in the kitchen. He says, “I have become the Crockpot king! I have to resist the urge to fill the kitchen with gadgets I will use a few times and then leave in a cupboard for 10 years.”
For his part, Valley has learned how to build websites. “Although I still consider myself a novice,” he says, “I was able to do interesting sites with dynamic content, subscriptions, etc. I’ve set up the one for QTIX.org [Quebec’s regional ticketing association] and a few more. As a very important part of ticketing involves e-commerce, to be able to understand the technicalities of websites just enhances my perspective on ticket sales.”
Denise Smithson Green, former Director of Ticketing for Des Moines Performing Arts, has used her additional down time to go back to school. “During this time, I am working to complete my bachelor’s degree,” she says. “When I went to college as a wee one, I received two two-year degrees but was short the four-year piece of paper. So, I am focused on finishing out my four-year degree.”
Murray, meanwhile, discovered what she calls “her inner rock star.” Right before COVID-19 hit, she met a completely new set of friends in her local music scene. “Little did I know they would be a sustaining force for me this year!” she says. ”COVID-19 has indeed turned me into a ‘rock star!’ Well, not quite, but it is fun to pretend. These local musicians have continued to play at local events, restaurants and businesses that needed the extra draw. They were kind enough to give me a chance to sing a little with them. … I have also organized a group we call SOS: Sharing Our Songs, where we visit homebound seniors with a dozen or more choir members to sing hymns in their yard.”
And in addition to his 4-year-old son, the A’s Ziegenbusch has a 10-year-old daughter. “I have had to fill the role of 5th grade home-school teacher,” he says. “For the last year, I’ve become less reliant on the calculator app on my phone. I have relearned how to divide decimals as well as the state capitals for all 50 states. I’m ready for the ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” game show to come back. I think I could do it!”
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Tags: Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus