As the world continues to come to grips with this pervasive new pandemic, many prominent people in the entertainment industry are stepping up to lead by example. Some are offering free online entertainment for people sheltering in place. Others are writing big checks to help benefit people, organizations, and businesses that are struggling.
Singer, James Taylor, recently donated one million dollars to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to give the medical staff what they need to continue to fight against the spread of the virus and to help those already infected. The donation was made without strings, giving the hospital directors discretion on how the funds can best be invested. In a statement, the hospital said the funds would be a big help with purchasing new supplies and equipment, finding new space for additional patients, and funding research to stop the spread of the disease.
Speaking about their gift, Taylor, who was born at Massachusetts General, where his father served as chief resident, said all New Englanders look to MGH as “their” hospital. “This is especially true with the threat coming from a new and insidious virus. We want to be part of this fight…”
Meanwhile a group of Broadway producers are organizing an effort to offer relief to actors and employees out of work due to the closure of all shows. From dollar-for-dollar donation challenges to directly encouraging each other to get involved in the effort, many producers have stepped up and called on their colleagues to do the same. The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, as well as the Actor’s Equity Union’s Emergency Curtain Up Fund, will both be available to help struggling actors and industry workers staying home because of the virus.
The Atlanta Opera has stepped up in a very different way. The company’s wardrobe and costume department has come together to create face masks and other PPR (protective clothing) to be used in metro-area hospitals that are running low on supplies. Instead of stage outfits, the company will be manufacturing masks, sheets, and other textiles medical professionals can use to treat sick patients. When asked about their plan, a spokesman said, they just wanted to do their part: “The idea was to bring together the incredible skill of our people and the equipment we have to manufacture garments that are much needed for the medical community… It’s a very simple idea.”
Simple, perhaps, but a good one that can, and is, being emulated. In many other cases, entertainment groups, large and small, have taken the show online, offering free concerts or playing for tips just to put smiles on quarantined faces.
The big lesson here? Be ready, willing, and able to adjust, to shift from one plan into another, change the campaign, the approach, the entire structure of the message delivery, because change will come, and it might be something no one is ready for.