The spread of COVID-19 across the world has demanded drastic, unprecedented action and yesterday we saw a rapid shift in public policy and positioning in relation to mass gatherings, in response to growing concern and the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic. Like most people in our industry, and in the world more broadly, we have been struck by how quickly things have shifted. The term pandemic or something similar has existed in our risk management plans for years, and until now, at least during my time, we haven’t seen it present as a live risk to mitigate against.
Now is absolutely the time for this drastic action to take place, and the event cancellations that have quickly flowed from the shift in government position, are the appropriate course of action. For the Sport Projects team the risk mitigation quickly became tangible yesterday, with the cancellation of the Herald Sun/Transurban Run for the Kids, which we have proudly delivered for the Herald & Weekly Times since 2016. Like many organisers around the world, along with their event managers and staff, we now need to face the reality of months of preparation with no end result. For an event like R4K, a lack of end result is extra impactful given the cause is more important than the course.
There is a bigger picture at play here here and the health & wellbeing of the wider community is our priority, but we are also mindful of the drastic impact on our industry and its people.
Overnight, the landscape has changed dramatically and there is a colder than usual winter ahead for many event organisers, suppliers and their event professionals, including the thousands of freelance, casual and sole trader people that represent the heart of our industry. It is important that we all try and support one another through these tough times by reaching out to one another, socialising (in smaller than mass gatherings), sharing positive energy and attempting to make the best of a bad situation.
As a business owner the immediate future is pretty bleak and it is near impossible to forward plan with any certainty. I will be working hard to ensure that we roll with the punch and soften the blow for our people and our wider network, wherever possible. What keeps me in this industry is the people and the relationships, along with a line of work that usually represents enjoyment. It’s certainly not the (often fine) profit margin. We must treasure the people and treat them kindly. The people I know that forge a path in the events space are a pretty resilient lot and are better prepared than most for the tough times ahead.
It is still so very surreal. Usually, when faced with a challenge, a seemingly impossible deadline or a resourcing shortage I can always find a way through. Elbow grease, work ethic, honesty, perseverance (and my speedy typing) will generally see me through. This is a tougher nut to crack. Do I have a plan? Not yet. Maybe I am an eternal optimist but I truly believe those that become COVID-19 survivors will be steeled in new armour.
I thought I had just about seen it all. I hadn’t. In the short term, we batten down the hatches, bring forward that deep dive review we do at the end of every season, and focus on building next level resilience into the business again. Hey, and maybe even the reading, exercise and DIY around home will finally experience a little more focus. That can’t be all that bad.
To my clients, friends, colleagues, staff and wider network out there… take care. Share stories, share ideas, share experiences, express your vulnerabilities and together I am certain we can prevail.