What’s Coronavirus got to do with PatronBase?

We’ve been spending a fair bit of our time on the tiny lump of genetic material known as COVID-19 over the past 2-3 weeks. As well as putting our own contingency plans into action, we’ve put some pretty comprehensive guidance in place – not just on the system and how we’ll support it during the intensifying pandemic, but also taking a step back and looking at the challenges facing venues, attractions and organisations producing events in a more holistic way. We’ve been active on social media for the last few days as the pandemic has intensified, and will continue to be. We’re also intending to keep the guidance  document (which you can find here) updated over the coming days and weeks, and we’re setting time aside for calls with organisations who want to talk through their preparedness and impact, for as long as the crisis continues to affect the industry we love, free of charge whether they are PatronBase partners  or not.

We’re not a public health authority, or an industry body, or a funder – so as a humble software supplier, why are we bothering? Why us?

It’s What We Do

We are a software supplier, and we do aim to keep ourselves pretty humble, but that’s not all we are or all we do. We function at our best as trusted partners to our venues – guiding, advising, sometimes challenging, always listening – and we’ve all worked in the industry long enough to have a view that’s far broader than just the software we sell and support.

In addition to that, the software we provide has a role to play both in how the venues we support handle the crisis in the recent and coming days, and recover from the impact over the coming months. But that doesn’t exist in isolation – we can’t wave a magic wand – it’s tied to organisation strategy, so the organisations we support will get the most out of the system if we have a holistic view of them and their needs, not just the support-level view of “how do I…?”

It’s Where We Saw A Need

We started to see increasing support requests from organisations, initially centred on working from home, but then broadening from there. Those requests started out technical in nature, focussing on system access and how to cancel /reschedule events, but it was quickly clear the organisations we support would benefit from more than that – a trusted partner to feed into their thinking about when and how to work from home, their options around changing event schedules and the strategies they could take to safeguard the funding for their mission.

Of course, the organisations we support vary hugely in size and nature, and many will have these things covered, but it never hurts to have a friend in your corner to sanity check your approach, act as a sounding board or just reassure you that you’re not alone, and that’s as much part of what we do as helping the organisations who are struggling.

It’s Somewhere We Can Bring A Broad Perspective

Operating internationally in 8 countries and counting, we’re in daily contact with a network of colleagues with differing perspectives. The pandemic has affected different countries at different rates, and the responses have differed hugely. By bringing together the knowledge of our global hive mind, we’ve been able to pool solutions and insight which has been to the benefit of both our UK and overseas colleagues, partner organisations and wider community.

It’s The Right Thing To Do

We believe that the arts, culture and attraction sectors have a vital role to play in preventing the crisis from worsening, keeping us all sane whilst it’s ongoing, and helping us to come out of the other side. We’ve seen grassroots organisations taking the lead on these issues, and artists and venues offering live streamed gigs and events to keep everyone entertained. When this is all over, boy, are we gonna need some escapism and a good night out.

We believe that the sector we are passionate about has a huge part to play, beyond simply survival, in the wider community. We’ve been really encouraged by Arts Council England’s intervention, both to reassure English funded organisations of support, AND to encourage them to pass that support on, and that’s a stance we totally believe in.

“Not (just) for profit” isn’t a marketing slogan – it underpins our whole approach. So, it’s less about “why should we bother?” and more about “how can we not?” If our small contribution can help any organisation who in turn plays a direct role in supporting their community, it’s time and effort well spent.

So What Next?

We hope the guidance we’ve provided will give organisations a broad grasp of the issues as we see them. We’ll continue to update our guidance over the coming days and weeks, both as the situation changes and as we come across best practice and creativity in organisations which we can share. We won’t send a mailing out each time we update, because we don’t want to overload inboxes, but will post updates on social media. If you’re not already, make sure you’re following us on Twitter @PatronBaseUK for updates.

For the venues we have who self-host PatronBase, and want to move to the Cloud, we’re giving the first 3 months of cloud hosting free.

For organisations or individuals who would benefit from some additional support – whether you’re using PatronBase or not – we have time set aside for (virtual) meetings, totally free. We may not be able to help everyone, but will help as many as we can. Whether it’s with your comms, operations, a sounding board for your ideas, a source of advice, or just to link up with others facing the same issues you are, we’re here for you and we’ve got your back.

It will be a rough ride over the coming weeks and months, but stay safe, look after your health (physical and mental), and we’ll look forward to meeting with you on the other side.