From the publisher...
The Positive Side of "No"
As I drafted this month's editorial, I felt like I was back in New
England. Snow ... ice ... wind ... unfriendly weather wreaking havoc
with our plans. Many of us lost critical rehearsals, and some had to
cancel shows. The storm hit the theatre community when our chips were
already down, and this raises some questions to which there are no easy
"I can't get out of my driveway. Can I get a refund for tonight's
show?" I'm very sorry ... no. "But why?!" Well ... because
we have to stay in business. Despite the state of emergency, Broadway
Across America held every performance of Wicked, and its only concession
to snow- or shelter-bound ticket-holders was to honor those tickets
for the return engagement in May. I fully understand that. Those ticket-holders
who can make it to the show have a right to see it, and the company
has a right not to take a devastating financial loss. Is this awkward
to explain? Certainly. It's hard and often painful to say no. But sometimes
Many of us already had our first encounter with this, when calls started
coming in asking for "deals," discounts and ticket-price breaks,
after some local television stations convinced people that it was a
good idea. (See last month's editorial, "No Thanks to the New 'Deal.'")
Those news spots about "cheap tickets" — an unfortunate
monicker that serves to cheapen the product as much as the price — hurt
our morale as well as our box office. In this economy, as donations
dry up and grants funding all but disappears, those who would cut our
remaining source of income need to take a serious look in the mirror.
My own theatre group frequently gets calls asking whether they can
get a refund if they can't make it to a show. If we can switch them
to another performance, then we do, but most of the time we must simply
say no. Our policy is posted on our web site, and we restate it when
taking reservations over the phone. What more can we do? What can you?
The first thing is to be prepared. Snow and ice in winter are not altogether
unexpected, and we should all have our policy in place long before they
occur. Ditto for what other predictable problems may crop up. Then,
when you have to say no, do it as kindly as you can, but do it. If we
treat all of our customers equally and fairly, then we have to accept
that we can't always make all of them happy. We must be content to know
Let's heed the example of Broadway Across America, who handled a difficult
situation well. Let's also heed the example of a tiny Kentuckiana theatre
company who, after the storm hit, contacted all of its cast and crew
and offered them shelter if their home was without heat or power. Theatre
people are simply the best.
Normally, at this point I'd wrap up my editorial with the subhead, "Okay,
Now Break a Leg." However, remembering all that ice, I'll dispense
with it this time. Instead, I'll urge you to stay safe and warm.
If we keep our mutual support and our spirits up, the curtain will
always rise again.
— A.S. Waterman
Copyright © 2009 A.S. Waterman. All rights reserved.
Artwork and text are copyright © 2006 and 2016 A.S. Waterman.
All rights reserved.