COVID-19: Planning for the future 1

Initial concerns for music groups at the coronavirus outbreak were about cancelling or postponing events planned in the short term and suspending regular activities.

Many groups then turned quickly to consider what they could do to keep their groups going – both from a social point of view, and musically.

Making Music has been providing support on both those fronts with resources and inspiration.

But as lockdown starts to be lifted gradually, groups are looking into the future, and asking: 

  • When and how can we get back to meeting up in person and rehearsing?
  • When and how will public events with an audience be possible again?
  • How do we best manage our group in the meantime – finances, members etc.?

We don’t have the answers for you – because there are no ‘right’ answers. Each group will have to take decisions based on current government guidance in their nation (there are now significant variations between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and taking into account their situation, location and membership. What Making Music is seeking to do with this resource is to help you explore these questions and give you some useful tools to arrive at the best possible answer for your group.

Risk and assessing it

We would all like crystal clear guidance that tells us: ‘you can do this from 15 August’ or ‘don’t do that’.  But there is a lot science doesn’t know yet about this virus and research takes time; and even the scientists don’t always agree! So absolute certainties are and will remain hard to come by, and furthermore each situation, group or activity will have its own factors to consider.

So first a general note on risk: you will never entirely eliminate it; risk is ever-present in our daily lives; what we can do – as individuals, as organisers – is:

  • Identify the risks associated with the activity we want to carry out
  • Identify how can we minimise those risks and decide whether we can live with the remaining risk
  • If we can, decide on and implement risk control measures we are able to put in place and can afford
  • Communicate our plans and actions clearly to those who will be affected

Our members and audiences will have to assess their own risk (e.g. underlying health condition) and decide for themselves whether they feel comfortable joining a rehearsal or attending a performance. So it is essential that you communicate clearly what you are doing or propose to do, giving them good information to base their decision on.

And they need to trust you to deliver on what you have decided to do because returning to normal won’t be only about actually making rehearsals and events as safe as possible, it will also be about the ‘confidence factor’.

Everyone’s ‘risk thermostat’ is set at a different level, so even people with the same health conditions may take different decisions for themselves, but everyone will need to feel confident that they know what to expect if they do attend and that you will rigorously implement what you have announced.

Read through our guidance to help you explore the implications of the main areas of risk for your group:

Once you have assessed the risk, you can then:

5 top tips for getting through this situation

  • Learn to adapt, quickly
    • This is not business as usual; so forget ‘we’ve always done it like this’; but keep focussed on what your group is about and who it’s for, to evaluate any plans and actions for the current situation against that bigger picture
  • Be flexible
    • Changing your mind is allowed when the situation around you is constantly changing! That is not weakness, it is flexibility. Take the best decision you can, at the time you have to take it – and then review it, frequently
  • Experiment
    • Everything is different at the moment; is this the chance to sit back and think afresh about how you can fulfil your purpose? Try things out – what better time than when the rule book has just been thrown out of the window
  • Ask for help
    • Literally – if you’re stuck, ask Making Music, seek views from fellow members in our weekly Zoom meetings, talk to other groups in your area that you know
    • Figuratively – read, search the internet, be inspired by what you see others do in a similar situation, and that could be in Italy, the US or down the road
  • Don’t give up
    • Your group has probably been around for a while. Because you are needed. Because you are fulfilling an important role for your members, the community
    • So you may come out of this a bit battered, but people will still want you to be here, will still want to sing, play and go to concerts, so hang on in there!

With thanks to Chorus Connection for these 5 headings – though the detail is our own

    Stronger for the future

    Music groups exist because for hundreds of years people have wanted to make and enjoy music together. They will still be here when Covid-19 fades away.

    Yes this situation does throw up some challenges, but are there ways in which we can use it to make us stronger for the future?

    These resources are here to help you:

    • Gather your committee, members and supporters with clear communications
    • Be clear what you’re about and for, and for whom
    • Always know how much money you have in the bank, what income you can count on, what expenditure you cannot avoid
    • Seize the opportunity to learn new skills and become a seasoned traveller of the online world; this will never be a disadvantage going forward
    • Seize the chance to re-evaluate how you run the group, how you present yourself to potential members and audiences, to make changes you can see are needed now you’ve taken a step back.

    And remember: never give up. You are needed and whatever the new normal will look like, people will still want to play, sing and listen to live musicians.

    Planning for the future 2a: Meetings and rehearsals

    ---------------------------------------------------

    See also:
    Planning for the future 2b: Events with a public audience
    Planning for the future 3: Options and planning


    We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.