Everyone’s talking about it: the coronavirus crisis. As more and more cities and countries take on “stay at home” orders and work to tackle growing medical shortages, events around the world are facing the difficult question of postponement or cancellation.
For smaller events, cancellation is the same as admitting defeat. Many conventions and festivals run by new or non-established organizations simply cannot survive a year’s worth of lost ticket sales, vendor contracts, and speaking arrangements.
So what can we do to help these organizations survive?
1. Support your local organizations and small businesses.
If you or your family members have purchased tickets to an event that has since been cancelled, consider donating the cost of the ticket to the organization instead of asking for a refund. This goes for foundations and NGOs as well as performing arts spaces and your favorite city museum.
In times like these, we can’t forget about workers, either. Many part-time employees have lost their jobs and livelihoods as a direct result of the coronavirus. It’s impossible to donate to every single employee relief GoFundMe that passes our social feeds, but sharing these campaigns can help put them in front of other people more able to contribute. Whenever you can, shop small, shop local, and support your local businesses, whether that means ordering takeout more often than usual or donating a box of gloves or masks to your local pharmacy workers.
2. Support innovative solutions.
In response to the crisis, some events teams are scrambling to host their events online or in virtual settings to avoid cancelling completely. Among them is the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI): after Indiana University’s President made the decision to cancel the Philanthropy Plugged In conference, WPI made plans to move the symposium’s resources online through a series of podcasts, webinars, social media streams, and video content.
“We may lose the opportunity to create community together in Chicago but we will repurpose the content and provide templates for you to engage with it and discuss it in the communities you create locally and with your constituents,” wrote Andrea Pactor, Associate Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.
While modern technology presents unique opportunities for events like these to continue in a virtual space, it also presents new financial and logistical hurdles many event planners have to face on a rapidly diminishing timeline. Donations of technology, funds to hire technological advisors, and the simple effect of a share on social media can go a long way toward making these online events a success.
3. Donate your time and resources, not just your money.
While many organizations are facing cash flow issues, still others are facing shortages in resources and man-hours as they are forced to lay off team members. If you find yourself working from home with extra time on your hands, consider donating your time to organizations through programs like United Nations Volunteers and Translators Without Borders.
If an organization you support needs help outside of your area of expertise, spread the word through your social and professional networks. A single share goes a long way in times like this.
4. Support organizations that support those being displaced.
The funders behind the movers and shakers are critical supporters of social change and life-saving campaigns. Coronavirus relief funds like The Workers Lab’s Workers Fund and the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Coronavirus Care Fund offer direct support for people losing income due to COVID-19.
In an industry near and dear to my heart, More Seats At The Table is a monthly email newsletter that highlights games in development created by gender-marginalized designers. Services like this are even more important in the wake of games convention cancellations sweeping the world, where upcoming games would get their moment in the spotlight. Subscribing to newsletters, supporting Patreons, GoFundMes, and Kickstarters, and sponsoring or sharing exciting new projects are all great ways to support your favorite creative industries from home.
5. And most importantly, vote.
While there are many facets of the coronavirus crisis that could not have been avoided, many people are justly disappointed with their governments’ responses. 2020 is slated to be a landmark election year, so when it’s time to get out to the polls, it’s on all of us to make sure we’re showing up at the polls, educated about our choices, and ready to cast votes that make a difference in future disaster planning.
In the United States, fifteen states have been forced to postpone or reschedule their primary elections. In some cases, states will be expanding their options for mail-in voting, absentee voting, and unexpected options like curbside ballot drop-off. In a year like this, our votes count more than ever. Stay up to date with your state’s changing voting requirements and head for the polls, hand sanitizer at the ready.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented levels of panic, cancellation, and uncertainty, but it has also shown some of the incredible ways people can come together in times of crisis. Stay educated, stay informed, and wash your hands. By working together, we can come out on the other side stronger than before.
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