Handling major disruption – Dr Dawn Langley

These are uncertain times. We don’t know what will unfold over the coming days and weeks. We are in a period of mass disruption, coupled with understandable anxiety and concern. At this time, we’re more committed than ever to support arts and cultural organisations across the sector. Today, we’ve spoken to Dr Dawn Langley, an associate at people make it work, founder of Alchemy Research & Consultancy and former Director of Organisational Development at ACE. We’re sharing her insights on how to plan for the coming weeks and months ahead.

Handling major disruption

We are in an open-ended situation and it’s important that we all ask ourselves some core questions such as:

What is our burn rate? What are the existing monthly costs that we need to cover – salaries, contracts, services?

What is our safety net? How much cash do we have to spend month on month – what income do we have that we can draw on?

Without knowing how long this crisis will last, what plans can we put in place for the next 3 months, the next year?

Knowing that change is happening now, how can we adapt our business model now? How will this change our working practices in the coming weeks and in the future? It seems less pressing today, but the reality is we will emerge from this crisis into a landscape that has changed. Our primary focus is ‘on the now’ but let’s not forget about our future state.

Some ideas that you might useful…

  1. Form groups – collaborate with others
  2. Stay in touch with your stakeholders
  3. Stay in touch with your customers and beneficiaries
  4. Review all your contracts and know your obligations – this includes event cancelations, tenants, artists, freelancers and ancillary services such as catering, IT support etc
  5. Seek specialist advice – this may include insolvency advice
  6. If you have a large team, consider a phased roll out of digital processes and access so you can test your systems. Think through the needs and access requirements of your team
  7. Ensure you have good back-up systems
  8. Know where to go for support – some of the recent Treasury announcements outline support that could be available to the cultural sector
  9. Act compassionately. Everyone responds to this type of situation differently
  10. Don’t forget to look at cross sector advice – like the Federation of Small BusinessesNational Council for Voluntary Organisations.