AudienceView has today (Tuesday) been forced to temporarily lay off almost half of its staff due to the pressure live industry organisations are facing from Covid-19.

The Toronto-based ticketing firm, which also owns TheatreMania, WhatsOnStage, and Vendini, has let go of 140 employees and implemented wage cuts to its remaining staff as the live industry goes dark amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said its priority now is to ensure its singular focus – “supporting its clients and the industry in getting through this so we can bring our staff back together to continue our mission.”

Mark Fowlie (pictured below), chief executive at AudienceView, detailed the impact Covid-19 has had on the industry, and more specifically AudienceView, in a post on LinkedIn.

Catastrophic upheaval

Today, the live events industry is in a unique position that was completely unfathomable a few short weeks ago – simultaneously, almost every live event venue in the world has been shut down. Never could we have imagined such a sudden and catastrophic upheaval to our industry, from which no organisation has been able to escape, including AudienceView.

Our team has been working around the clock to understand this impact as this situation evolves day-by-day and hour-by-hour. At this moment, it’s impossible to predict the medium-to-long term impacts that this industry wide shutdown will have and, most importantly, when events will resume as normal across our clients’ venues.

We focused our initial efforts on three core areas of impact: employee health and well-being, operational continuity, and business impact. Having closed all offices two weeks ago and successfully implemented a work-from-home protocol, we feel good about those first two areas. The business impact, however, is still a big unknown.

We kicked off 2020 with a very exciting plan for the coming year with well-defined objectives, financial and non-financial metrics, cross-functional initiatives, product roadmaps, employee development programs and many other initiatives focused on the continued growth and success of AudienceView. We were also aggressively recruiting across all department functions with more than 25 open positions to support our plan, including three executive roles.

Live ground to a halt

Then social distancing became a reality and everything stopped. With every client venue going dark, there are no live events which means no ticket sales to generate revenue and cash flow.

It seems the entire world is in a holding pattern, hunkering down and just trying to make it through to the other side. All the corporate and team initiatives, scorecard metrics, and development programs have given way to a single goal: focus on core business functions to support our clients and ride this out. There is no playbook for nearly 100% of your revenue turning off in a matter of weeks.

As a result, we made the tremendously difficult decision to announce that we are temporarily laying off slightly more than half our staff as of March 31. These 140 individuals have all been huge contributors to our growth and success, but in these uncertain times we must prioritise to ensure our singular focus – supporting our clients and the industry in getting through this so we can bring our staff back together to continue our mission.

For the employees that are staying on and working hard to support our clients and bring back their colleagues, they have also been impacted with temporary wage reductions.

This is a really hard thing to do as the CEO of a company full of incredible people, even when you know it is the responsible decision. Your employees are counting on you to lead them safely through these uncharted waters.

The buck stops with you, and somehow you need to explain how they go from strong contributors one day to a necessary temporary cost reduction the next. Thankfully, I am supported by an incredible executive team and functional leaders that calm the waters and help steady the ship.

A temporary necessity

As mentioned above, the impact of COVID-19 on the world, our industry and AudienceView was unfathomable a few short weeks ago. And now that impact is going to be felt directly by our passionate and dedicated employees.

But this will be temporary. With the combination of AudienceView, TheaterMania, WhatsOnStage, Vendini and University Tickets, we created a very strong industry leader with exceptional market position and excellent fiscal health going into 2020. We have taken the necessary steps to ensure we get through this and will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

Stay safe and stay apart… until the lights come back on. Then get back out there and support the live events industry like never before! Our industry depends on it.