It has been a strange and difficult time for staff here at the Octagon. When we made the announcement about the delay to the opening of the building, our dedicated box office team were working hard from home ringing our audiences to let them know. Box Office manager Dana talks about this experience in this short blog.
My name is Dana and I'm the Box Office Manager at the Octagon.
10 weeks ago we launched our exciting Summer reopening celebrations and new season to the public. And they loved it! For nearly three weeks, Box Office phones were ringing off the hook and there were queues at our counter in the Market Place unit with people buying memberships and tickets. Regular and new customers alike were booking and it was lovely to see people coming back to us. They were giddy and we were giddy!
Then the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic became clearer and bookings understandably started slowing down. Octagon staff started working from home and armed with laptops and mobiles, myself and the Box Office team began taking calls and selling tickets from our living rooms and kitchens.
3 weeks ago we received the sad news from Roddy and Lotte that the reopening of the Octagon had been delayed to late Autumn. Fortunately, One Man, Two Guvnors could be rescheduled to next summer but Marvellous and our amazing opening celebrations had been cancelled. Lotte, Roddy and our Communications team sent out emails with the news to anyone who had booked and then myself, my Box office team Nicola and Jade, and our Development Manager Ed began phoning everyone personally to talk them through how they were affected. We had rebooked our One Man, Two Guvnors audiences onto alternative dates in June and July but for those who were supposed to attend the cancelled performances, we offered full refunds, credits or, as we are a charity, the option to donate to our Octagon Future Fund. Because of the delay, we were facing a loss of £500,000 in lost income and we needed all the help we could get.
Needless to say, our wonderful supporters, members and audiences did not let us down! Although disappointed, they were not surprised and the outpouring of support and concern we received from each and every one was overwhelming. So many people donated their ticket prices without a second thought. Others accepted a credit so we didn't lose money and even those people who took refunds did so with regret and promised whole heartedly that they would definitely come and visit us once we were open. We talked to people who had relatives on the front line, who were worried about their income or who were on their own and self isolating yet still they were worried for us and for the Octagon. We lost count of the times we were told that they missed us and we always replied saying we missed them too.
On behalf of the Octagon Box Office team I would like to say a big thank you to everyone we spoke to. You made our job so much easier and your kindness moved us all. When the Octagon reopens it will be because of our amazing supporters, members and audiences and it will be bigger and better than before.
We cannot wait to see you. We've missed you.