We need to talk

We’ve noticed something on the increase recently. At first it was just mildly annoying, but as time has gone on, it is affecting our ability to do what we do, so we feel we need to say something.

No, it’s not when Tweetdeck wasn’t working, when Tik Tok had an outage, or even the constant headache that is remembering to unmute our Zoom calls.

We’re talking about signing up to a ‘free’ event and then not showing up, or giving impossibly short cancellation notice to the organiser.

We know things happen. Unexpected diary clashes, brain fog, broken cars, unwell cats. This isn’t the issue.

We recently had a course that was free to access and sold out very quickly. It was offering about £800-worth of expert training per person. But this training was not ‘free’: we paid for it. We applied for funding to deliver it. We used our time, resources, and skills to organise it. Of those who signed up, 50% didn’t show up. And on this occasion, we had as many people on the waiting list as those who didn’t attend. Those people never got a chance to access the empty places. And that’s just one example… one event.

The events we host are subsidised, not free. We have to pay our facilitators, and the funding to allow us to offer their expertise out to the sector for free comes from public sources. It takes a huge amount of background work to apply for funding, and lots of admin time to prepare everything to go ‘on sale’. Our final attendance figures affect our ability to be funded for similar work in future.

Until we can transition back into hosting in-person events as well, online events are here to stay. We love that we can now engage practitioners from all four corners of Scotland, who previously wouldn’t have been able to attend training events as often. But just because we aren’t paying for physical things like venue hire, coffees, chocolate biscuits, and materials, it does not mean there is no cost.

As people working in youth theatre, you’d probably be upset if half your audience didn’t arrive for a performance you thought was sold out. So, please, if you sign up to something, do your best to use that place. It’s worth a lot.

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