Many Stages Of Covid Coping

I don’t know about everyone else, but not having a slate of performances on my schedule has kept me just as occupied as actually having events. While I am definitely grateful to still have a job, albeit warily eyeing its status, I have never not had enough to keep me occupied on an Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm+ basis.

It almost seems like we are going through the many stages of coronavirus coping analogous to the stages of grief. I am not sure how many stages we will go through for coronavirus, but this how I have partitioned my experience thus far:

First came the frenetic activity of crisis management, review of force majeure clauses, cancellations, communications and processing of refunds.

Then came the scrutinizing of governor’s orders and generation of seat maps, processes and shopping lists of sanitizing product in order to comply with what we anticipate the rules will be once we are permitted to re-open, whenever that may be.

Now things seem to be in the phase when organizations facing the prospect of cancelling their signature events try to formulate alternative plans. Their primary intent is to have something in place so that when they say they are cancelling their big event, they can simultaneously announce what smaller endeavors they will engaged in instead. The underlying goal being to create a situation where they retain relevance in the minds of community members in the absence of their big event.

I stayed late at work today to participate in my third Zoom meeting of the day to brainstorm contingency plans with a community organization. When I asked one of my staff if she would be on the meeting, she said she couldn’t because she was participating in the same conversation with another organization.

At the same time, it surprises me that some organizations are adamantly sticking to their traditional practices and ticketing policies–or at the very least, are doing a poor job communicating with their audiences. This week we had a spate of angry phone calls mistaking us for an organization in another part of the country that has a similar name. My guess is either something happened recently or some information was released that made 3-4 people so angry they didn’t realize the phone number they googled was at a place 800 miles away.

Though my understanding is that some ticketing services’ policies have exacerbated the refunding process so the blame may not lay entirely with venues.

In any case, I think it is clear to most everyone that you can’t take it for granted that you will retain the goodwill and reputation you may have built up. Those with poor reputations may find that a shift in personal priorities means there is no longer a begrudging tolerance of poor practices accorded them due to their stature and influence.



About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to Butts In The Seats and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend