by Alessandra Izzo, with open letter by Lisa D
What a week it’s been. An emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.
While we all sit here shell-shocked, trying to process the momentous shift of gears our entire society is going through – the job losses, the economic instability, the anxiety over the safety of those around us – we are also being forced through a time of immense grief.
While many would not – or could not – understand what it is like to have their local pole studio shut down, those of us going through this time are desperately trying to work out how to adapt. Our pole families are being torn away from us. Our places of solace, where we access our goals and dreams, gone. Our greatest joy, our passion, is no longer available in the way we’ve grown accustomed.
While we all go through this turmoil, it’s really our studio owners who are being hardest hit. I can only imagine the pain they are going through. They’ve not just lost the connection with their community, they’ve lost their jobs, their ability to support their teachers, their income and their purpose. All this, with no fixed end in sight to the crisis. The uncertainty might even be worse than the forced closures.
Many have no option but to do an emergency pivot into online learning – and right now, this is their only way to offset their heavy losses. I saw a post on Facebook by Aussie pole champion Lisa D offering a host of suggestions on how we as a community can get behind our studios and studio owners. This information is so vital, I feel it must be shared. Please read, and help in any way you can so that once this time passes, we will be able to enjoy our treasured spaces and communities in the way we previously have.
Open letter from Lisa D to the pole community
A lot of studios are in distress. Many are not eligible for any financial aid, so unless that changes there will be permanent closures, and even bankruptcies. A lot of you want to help, so here is a list of practical ways you can lend a hand. This is a mixed list (and almost certainly not complete) including actions for both those who have job stability and can comfortably afford their normal spending, and also for those who don’t have a lot of money or have been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19:
1. Consider waiving refunds for any classes that have been cancelled.
2. Keep up with communications from your home studio across all channels so you know what they are doing, what they are offering, and if they are asking for anything from their community.
3. Ask your studio if you can pay to book into a future term or block. Yes, they are currently closed. No, they don’t know when that future term or block will be, or for some studios, if they will make it there. But if you love what they have brought to your life, then place that bet on them. Book your next term, and consider it a donation if they can’t reopen.
4. If they are offering content online, purchase it. Do not expect it to be free, most studio owners (and instructors) are currently making zero dollars and have no idea how long they will be stuck that way. Buy the content.
5. Share word of your studio’s offerings. If they are offering great content online that the whole world could enjoy, tell people about it!
6. If they are running any kind of fundraising campaign, consider donating.
7. If they are offering gift cards or passes for future classes, purchase them.
8. If there is any way you can give them your skills for free, consider offering them. For example, you might be a great video editor and your studio is trying to get online content sorted.
9. Be active in your studio’s groups and pages online. A group is a community, and pole classes aren’t the only thing that bind us. Strike up conversations, share posts, check in with people. Help keep your studio’s community buzzing and positive while everyone figures out what to do.
Lastly, be considerate with how you approach communications. It varies studio to studio, but for many studios, it is preferable that people email the proper address as opposed to facebook messaging the owner’s personal profile. Just make sure you know protocol for your studio and stick to it.