It’s a difficult decision to make, but even when you’ve made it there are plenty of repercussions to take into account.
Before you rush in and cancel, there are several things you need to consider. There might even be a way to avoid cancelling at all.
things to think about when considering cancellation
- how expensive will it be? – what are the cost implications if you cancel? You may end up losing less money if you go ahead. If you do decide to cancel, make sure you’re aware of all the payments you’ll still be committed to plus costs already incurred (that you won’t recoup): ticket reimbursement, venue hire, accompanist, any equipment hire, lyric sheets already printed, publicity costs, etc.
- disappointed punters – unless there is a very clear reason for cancelling (e.g. ill health, venue fire, instrument theft), you may end up losing some goodwill amongst your audience. They may think twice about booking your next event.
- cancel or re-schedule? – instead of cancelling outright, you may decided to hold your event on an alternative date. One reason for this might be that a clash has occurred with another event that you hadn’t known about in advance. You’ll need to make clear to people who have already booked that they have the option of a refund or they can transfer their ticket to the rescheduled event.
- silver lining – there’s always a silver lining! You can find ways to spin the cancellation and use it to extend your publicity campaign for when you do end up performing. You can also work up the story behind the cancellation in order to get some press coverage.
ways to avoid cancelling
- substitute key personnel – if you’re cancelling because a key member is not available (e.g. choir leader, section leader, soloist, accompanist), you could always find a substitute. Rather than rushing around at the last minute it’s a good idea to have potential alternatives in place. You might be training up an associate choir director or have an alternate soloist for example. I was once phoned up the day before a singing workshop when one of my colleagues had to pull out due to illness. I was available and able to run the workshop in her stead. You may need to give refunds to some individuals who complain it wasn’t what they’d booked for.
- back-up venue – quite hard to pull off, but if you’ve been let down by your venue (double booking, caretaker doesn’t turn up, venue closed down for health and safety reasons) and you have a few days notice, then you can try to find an alternative. The hardest part will be to make sure you inform everyone who’s booked to come.
- replacement act – if your choir can’t perform for any reason, there might be a slim chance that you can get another local group to take your place. This is a bit easier if you’re not asking them to fill an entire evening. It’s a long shot, but given a day’s notice quite possible.
- roll with it and improvise – if the lights fail or the piano doesn’t turn up, then improvise. Have a candle-lit performance or sing acappella. Use it to your advantage to do things differently.
- low numbers can still work – if you get a really small number of people turn up to a singing workshop, you can easily adapt and turn it into a masterclass or an opportunity to do some one-to-one training. If your concert has a very small audience, you can rejig the performance space to make it more intimate and use it as an opportunity to perfect your choir’s performance skills – an unexpected dress rehearsal!
- use the unexpected to your advantage – if there’s an act of god like your coach breaking down or the town flooding, then just create a new, spontaneous event with whomever is there. Sing on the coach, entertain the service station, teach the regulars stranded in the local pub.