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Experts reveal how they are continuing events during COVID

Industry experts and event planners give advice on hosting successful events, virtually or in-person, during the pandemic. 

Scroll down to meet the experts and see the discussion topics and questions they answer.

Introducing our experts

...the three main technical attributes that are used to measure the quality of the stream are the video quality, the sound quality, and then your internet connection
Live streaming
Best software for events, broadcasting hardware and streaming tips. 

Topics of discussion

Live Streaming ticket & widget feature

Caroline Morrison-Pegg

Audience Services Technician
Chabot College

Brittany Noriega

Performing Arts Service Coordinator
Arcadia Performing Arts Center

Justin Beattey

MHAI Training Institute

Milad Imen

Event Producer
The Afternoon Umbrella Friends

Thomas Kovach

Advisory Committee member
Super Summer Theatre

Justin Baldridge

Theater teacher
Santa Barbara High School

Sandi Cottrell

Event Organizer & Owner
Art for People, Inc.

Food handling
Patio dining and safety guidelines for food experiences
Alert customers
Notifying guests of recent changes, new protocols and marketing to leads
Education online
Educational programs online, school registration and recommend software
Donations & fundraisers
Running fundraisers during COVID, selling merchandise and accepting donations
Reopening your venue
Procedures, new safety protocols to put in place before reopening 
Performing arts
Advice for stage performances and artists hosting events
Advice for planners
General advice for promoters putting on events during the pandemic
...a lot of the reason we decided on Zoom was because of there's a breakout room feature where you can essentially put people into small groups. And there was a lot of other functionalities that just for the type of interaction we were doing best fit our needs.
Now with having everything virtual, we kind of have an endless stream of revenue because we can host an endless amount of kids doing it online. So those 30 to 40 kids every year that end up on a waitlist...they don't have to be on a waitlist...
- Milad Imen
- Justin Beattey
- Brittany Noriega
We can either pre-record the performance, edit it and then set it up with a particular time, or the stream can be truly live and show exactly what's happening on stage at any particular time.
- Caroline Morrison-Pegg 
[farmers markets] Only one way traffic going in going out. That was 15 feet apart in terms of separation between booths. So they have to hold people at the entrance and count them in and out. And you're not allowed to go into a booth, you point, and people have the food up towards the front.

And so it's really sort of reshape the way farmers markets are done.
[patio dining] the time people have gone to the different restaurants and picked up their course of the meal, then they're able to drive away and take it home, go to a park and have a picnic. But it's not an event where people would gather.
Sandi Cottrell
Introducing Purplepass' new
...send out an email blast to the parents directly, instead of the teachers announcing [events] during class, I would even tap into the middle schools outside of our district...
...our initial outreach for publicity has been focused on our own digital delivery platforms. We use email quite significantly to communicate with our patron base, and social media. So that's been the focus...
...we wrote an A 15 minute segment at the beginning of everything, to walk people through how to use the Zoom platform, to show them how to use specific functions, how to make the screen look correctly. And I mean, it's really not that much extra time. And the people appreciate it, it's just a good customer service tool.
- Brittany Noriega
- Thomas Kovach
- Justin Beattey
...we've really been pushing out a lot of electronic communications, we've partnered with a couple of outlets to do sponsored blasts for us and Little Italy Association has a huge social media following. So we have been obviously promoting heavily there. 
- Sandi Cottrell

Advice for live streaming

Guidelines for food handling

Alerting customers about changes

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And what we found is really neat is when you're in person, those kind of side conversation can become overwhelming because you can hear it...but in a chat box where us as trainers honestly have stopped and been like, 'hey, we want to point out the conversation going on in the chat box'. Like, it's awesome, and it's really gave us the ability to have that full continuum and everybody feel like they're engaged during the whole thing, rather than just when they're called on to speak.
- Brittany Noriega
I figured out how I can use Purplepass as a registration platform.The game changer for me to host registration was definitely the option to use custom questions.

If a parent registers more than one student, we had to know who got what items and what shirts belong to what students so the custom questions really helped registration during their distribution process.
- Justin Beattey

Tips for education online of the neat things about the breakout rooms and Zoom is that when you're when you're one of the main user, you can assign people to rooms...what we encourage is the verbal dialogue, but then also encourage people to use the chat throughout the trainings.
[radio plays] And I think we're in this age of television, where we're so used to body language and camera angles, helping us tell a story on stage, we're used to lighting to help us tell a story and our body language.

But when you take all that away, all you have left is your voice. So it's really pushed the students to figure out how can I put this into my voice and the tone and the texture. And that was fun for the student directors who guided each cast in rehearsal.
- Justin Baldridge 
Brittany Noriega
Selling merchandise online is really cool. And it's kind of like each department within the school has their own personal online store, which they really sharing the link and go to the website. And the kids actually love it too.

...the band department is able to sell memberships that are essentially donations to their programs, which our programs are still going to run strong this year through the tragedy of the pandemic and all because Purplepass is not just a ticketing platform for venues, you kind of just got to get used to how the program works and figure out what options will work for you best when you're selling things other than tickets.

Donations & fundraisers

Tips from Brittany for hosting an online fundraiser

Displaying the fees

When you have a low price item, I would suggest including the fees. Up your price and include the fees and the price of the item. So if your t shirts are $5, sell them for $6. 

Include the fee in there, because when you're paying such a low price, and then you see an addition on top, sometimes in the consumers mind, it's kind of like 'Why am I being charged this extra fee?'.

High priced items

For your higher priced items, go ahead and add the fees. 

We're always paying fees and stuff, it being the additional for the convenience. So I would say definitely adjust the fees to what works best for that event, or whatever you're selling.

Using custom questions

Always test your events first. You don't have to make a purchase on whatever you're selling. But once you set up the custom questions, make sure you go to the site as if you were a customer, and make sure the questions are populating the way you want them to. 

My first time using it, I added to any custom questions, and the customers had to type in all of their information or item instead of per order. So if they bought five items, they had to type in their first name, their last name.

Key notes

- Justin Baldridge 
...we'll probably most likely have hand sanitizer when you walk in the theater in the lobby will most likely not allow guests waiting in an inside interior hallway, the main hallway of the school will most likely have people wait outside in front of the school. That's where everything will most likely take place so that we're not in an enclosed space.

And we'll keep the theater open on the sides and in the back as long as we can until Showtime. We might even have to figure out a way to do shows leaving some of the side doors open to get fresh ventilation through the theater.

Advice for reopening venues

- Caroline Morrison-Pegg
...our AC system, which filters the air effectively in most areas, doesn't purge the air from the sound booth. So we've purchased a filter for that area to keep our tech staff from breathing unhealthy air...the patrons and performers will follow a one way system that we've carefully mapped out.

And that stage in the seating area will be sanitized with an electrostatic spray between performances. And then there's a hand washing station for performers before they enter the venue. And of course, everyone must be wearing masks and socially distancing while on campus.
Little Italy adopted curbside dining, where they're putting, you know, tables and chairs out in the parking places in front of the restaurants. So luckily, a lot of the restaurants in Little Italy were able to expand their footprint so they can serve more people outdoors.
- Sandi Cottrell
I'm looking to do a show that's maybe not so through line, but more of a vignette type show. Because then it's easier to rehearse and easier to space out if you're only working with two to four kids at a time, and then you sort of puzzle it all together and you move on.
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Peforming Arts during COVID

Justin Baldridge
"We all hate this virtual world. I know I do. But at least let's find the positive out of it, though, we're forced to do things that we normally wouldn't have done. And we're discovering ways that we can still implement them once we get through this.

And I think with online theater, it's the same with in person, but with online because we're so distant, the more we can empower them to connect as a group and to lead themselves, I think we'll have successful productions...always ask for help because like you've mentioned, we are all new to this and theater people are not used to all the technology. So it's okay to ask and take advice from people."
Tips from Justin for continuing the Arts programs

Hosting events online

We are going very, very simple and basic, at least for our first time around. I've posted it on to my YouTube channel and it's not viewable by anyone. Unless you have like the embedded link, etc. And so with Purplepass they actually have a widget for it. So once you purchase it Purplepass takes care of the rest.

Plans for hosting in-person events again

We have 800 seats total. So we figure somewhere about 150 to 200 seats we could potentially sell. ..we're in the theater, we may have to move people around, and adjust as we go. We'll probably most likely have hand sanitizer when you walk in the theater in the lobby will most likely not allow customers in our theater waiting in an inside interior hallway, the main hallway of the school will most likely have people wait outside in front of the school.

That's where everything will most likely take place so that we're not in an enclosed space. And we'll keep the theater open on the sides. And in the back as long as we can until Showtime. We might even have to figure out a way to do shows leaving some of the side doors open to get fresh ventilation through the theater.

"It's really hard for everyone in the events industry to just have to stay home during these times. But it's also an opportunity. An opportunity to figure out new ways to interact with our community, we've had the opportunity to connect with so many of our friends through these live streams and we've actually made a lot of new connections as well, we're building up a second following almost, that we didn't have before.

And nothing will ever be the same as hanging out in person. But I'm realizing the same can be said about doing a live stream. It's been really challenging, but also a fun and unique experience running all these events from my living room. And when the time comes to go back to doing live events, I'll probably miss doing live streams a little bit."

You can find the entire interview on our podcast here

Advice for event planners during COVID

Milad Imen
Co-founder and Community Organizer for The Afternoon Umbrella Friends

You can listen to full interviews with each of our experts on our podcast series, EventBuzz

Justin Baldridge
Head of the Santa Barbara High School Theater program
"Be patient. When choosing shows, simple, is better. Utilize students beyond the capacity of acting.

For instance, my radio plays are all student directed. I had three students take charge, and then I mentored them and I actually got to act as the producer. And I got to guide everyone. And that took a lot of pressure off me, but it also empowered the kids to own it a little more. And I think with online theater, it's the same with in person, but with online, because we're so distant, the more we can empower them to connect as a group and to lead themselves, I think we'll have successful productions.

And I would say, ask for help. There's nothing wrong with asking for help going forward, if I don't know what I'm doing someone online will come to the rescue...always ask for help because we are all new to this and theater people are not used to all the technology. So it's okay to ask and take advice from people."

You can find the entire interview on our podcast here.

Caroline Morrison-Pegg
Audience Services Technician at Chabot College's Performing Arts Center
"I'd advise other venues to treat it as a learning experience. And basically keep that to your protocols accordingly. So communication is absolutely key with this. So talk to your staff before the events, address their particular anxieties and then, after the events, follow up with both staff members and the audiences to see if any issues came up. And then be adaptable to that and just deal with any new information you receive.

My second piece of advice is just remember how important we are as event makers. So performance spaces and event venues might seem low on the government's list of priorities right now, but the theater event industry is so so crucial. We bring together communities, we amplify voices, we elicit social change. And during this scary, uncertain time, these things more important than ever. We're creative people, we can find ways to run our event safely, even if they look a little different than what we're used to. So my advice is just don't give up on our industry."

You can find the entire interview on our podcast here.

Brittany Noriega
Performing Arts Service Coordinator at Arcadia High School
"Go for it. I mean, you're gonna learn as you go. Purplepass is one of those things that you set up an event, you get to the end of it, you start, you start setting it up, you figure out what your client or what the event needs. You host a virtual event, it ends you get the reports. And it might be a little bit not what you expected, but you have to do it in order to learn from it.

So if you make mistakes along the way, the program's really forgiving. And it's only going to get better and the more familiar you are with a program, it's going to be so much more efficient for you afterwards.

So I would say trial and error, just go for it. And if you have questions, Purplepass is amazing. As far as their customer service, when I get stuck on something and something's not populating the way I want. I just call and ask they teach me they run through it. And that's that, once the event finishes, definitely reflect back on what you're doing and make it better the next time. Our events are getting more detailed and a lot better, just from the fact that I'm practicing doing it. So just take the chance and just do it. You might make some mistakes along the way. But as long as you have good customer service, you'll be fine."

You can find the entire interview on our podcast here.

Thomas Kovach
Super Summer Theatre Advisory Committee member
"I think there's an interest by our audiences and hearing from us and having the opportunity even if they don't take it to participate. They might have something else planned, they might forget. I mean, this is just an unchartered world we're living in. People are looking for engagement. And I think it's important that as performing arts organizations, we're connecting with our audiences, we're letting them know we're here, we're letting them know, we're here for them, and go forward and do a virtual event and just let it be what it's going to be.

You know, everyone I think is more forgiving right now, when it comes to, you know, if there's a glitch with the technology or something doesn't sound as good as it does or, they know they might lose connection because of their own internet at home. So I think it's this most important to keep the mission in mind keep the importance of providing an opportunity to engage. And as I said earlier, don't try to do too much and make it too complicated."

You can find the entire interview on our podcast here.

Justin Beattey
Director of the MHAI Stanley WD Kemper Training Institute
"A lot of times, we don't think about the populations we're serving, you know, or our concert goers, you know, or educational people, the people that are showing up for our events, you know, whatever it may be like, they're the ones who are going to keep you in business.

It doesn't matter how cool or great you think your product is, if no one wants it. So listen to the people that are using the product, listen to the people that are engaging with it, and understand that things change and grow because anybody who's still around after roughly mid to late March, understands that you have to be willing to adjust.

You know, there were so many plans, so many organizations communities had plans in February - '...this is what we're doing this spring, this is what we're doing this summer.' I mean, look at the concert industry as a whole, look at the educational industry, so many in person event situations got turned on their head. And we're in the situation now where you either adjust to what's needed to be done, or unfortunately, you may be looking for a new line of work."

You can find the entire interview on our podcast here.

Sandi Cottrell
Director and event organizer
"If you have an event coalition in your area, if there's something like our group that you can get involved in, that you can write letters to your Congress and your state legislators, we need to get event professionals either back to work, or financially supported.

And so we're really encouraging activism about this because it's over 12 million people nationwide. And most of them are out of work. So we have an uphill battle on our hands.

Art online is difficult to really see, there have been so many times because of we look at art online all day every day. There have been many times when I've seen the piece in person that I've only seen online in the past. And I'm very surprised at how different it might be whether good or bad. It's just it is a challenging sale to make online I must say.  We have no choice at this point but to reconfigure and rework."

You can find the entire interview on our podcast here.



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Connecting event professionals around the world by sharing real-life experiences, insights, event planning tips and more. In each episode, we break down a different challenge or discuss a new idea to uncover the latest industry trends.

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Key notes

Equipment for streaming:

Recommended software: 

For DJs: TwitchFacebookYouTube Live

For educators: ZoomYouTubeVimeo 

Others: Streaming Video ProviderIBM

Purplepass users: Live stream widget


  • Do daily health screenings for staff 
  • Practice proper hygiene
  • Wear protective gear
  • Employee training & guidelines prior

Outdoor venues:

  • Modified layouts for social distancing
  • Have physical barriers & protective glass
  • Cleaning at common touch points
  • Directed one-way traffic flow
  • Vendor lines should tape off six feet 


  • Close areas that cannot be cleaned
  • Create a cleaning schedule and shifts
  • Designate a cleaning team 

Beverages & food:

  • Refer to the CDC's food guidelines 
  • Use gloves and wash hands if removed
  • Cover drinks with a lid
  • No buffet or cafeteria food, only boxed
  • Use a protective barrier at the bar
  • Have guests order from their tables
  • Use single serve cups and utensils 
  • Place tables at a safe distance
  • Do not allow long lines or crowds 

Key notes

Alerting customers & marketing tips:

  • Send mass emails and newsletters

  • Put out a press release closer to event 

  • Post on social media, stories, shoutouts

  • Partner with a local business or sponsor

  • Email out a guide of changes & protocols

  • Put alerts on your website

  • Use Facebook and Instagram ads

For educators:

  • Alert the parents directly, don't just go through the students

  • Provide login instructions prior to a class or upon signing up with FAQs

  • Use multiple channels for promoting these event changes

Key notes

Benefits of Zoom for education:

  • Breakout sessions
  • Small groups
  • Live chat
  • Backdrops (logos, designs, sponsors, etc.)
  • Ability to record and share sessions
  • Poll and survey features

Tips for teachers:

  • Include instructions on logging in even if it's a simple process
  • Find ways to boost engagement; possibly going into small groups
  • Be open to new technology and embrace it
  • Have dress up days or crazy backdrops to mix up the session
  • Provide slides and visual ads on screen 
  • Include all necessary information, links and details on your event page
  • Understand this is a learning process and it's okay to make mistakes

Key notes

Purplepass for accepting donations:

  • Ability to create membership levels
  • Promoters can create event pages as a donation campaign 
  • Ability to set minimum donations
  • Discount available for nonprofits - learn more

Tips for online fundraising:

  • Test out the functionality of campaigns online

  • Use custom questions for purchases

  • Set a delivery method that is appropriate 

  • For apparel, include as many size and color options as possible

  • Create different membership levels at different price points 

  • Gather donor information for future marketing and customer information

Fundraiser ideas:

  • Membership levels
  • Sponsorships
  • Merchandise
  • Apparel
  • Raffle tickets
  • Free tickets to events (open donation)

Key notes

Procedures for reopening venues:

  • Allow for ventilation by keeping windows and doors open, or move the event outside

  • Place hand sanitizing stations around the venue plus washing stations

  • Provide and require protective gear for your customers and staff

  • For food, turn to patio dining or a take-away experience

  • Use a one-way system that controls the direction of the foot traffic

  • Mark off 6-feet where any lines and crowds may form

  • Use a venue that can be modified for social distancing with an open floor plan

  • Research your local community rules for event during COVID and guidelines being put in place

  • Have staff/volunteers monitor guests

  • Hire a cleaning team for disinfecting the venue after each event

  • Shorten the time of your event(s)

  • Limit your guest count

  • Enforce assigned seating and/or assign groups to tables to limit foot traffic

Purplepass tools for safe venues:

Key notes

Tips for theaters:

  • Host productions on an outdoors stage or well ventilated area

  • Keep the capacity at 25-50%

  • Choose simple shows

  • Utilize students/performers beyond the capacity of acting to boost engagement 

  • Consider hosting online/virtual productions while we continue to socially distance ourselves

Advice for hosting online events:

  • Keep the registration process simple and straightforward

  • Do test runs to check the functionality of the stream (audio, visual, lighting, etc.)

  • Use a free streaming service (Facebook, YouTube live)

  • Record all events for future marketing and broadcasting past events

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help!!

Key notes

Milad Imen, event producer, talks about their latest virtual events, his streaming setup and recommended equipment. Plus insights and advice for working with multiple performers onsite or in various locations.
The EventBuzz Podcast - Advice on live streaming performances
The EventBuzz Podcast - Take out and patio dining during COVID-19
We had the chance to talk with event organizer for Little Italy San Diego, Sandi Cottrell, about their upcoming dining experiences and new food protocols during COVID. Get advice on following new safety protocols and tips for food handling during the pandemic.
The EventBuzz Podcast - Online educational events and engagement tips
Interview with MHAI training director, Justin Beattey, talking about his educational program and its transition to online - advice on hosting virtual educational events, workshops and trainings during COVID-19.
The EventBuzz Podcast - Online fundraisers, virtual school events and registration
Brittany Noriega, Service Coordinator for the Arcadia Performing Arts Center, shares her tips on using Purplepass’ registration and software for virtual events, student orientations, fundraisers, and merchandise sales.
The EventBuzz Podcast - New venue safety procedures in response to COVID
Audience Services Technician at Chabot College, Caroline Morrison-Pegg, shares how the school’s Performing Arts venue is restructuring all events during COVID.
The EventBuzz Podcast - Theatre program produces Radio Plays to connect online
In this episode, the head of the Santa Barbara High School Theater program explains how productions have continued online in the form of Radio Plays! Justin Baldridge also discusses his future plans for the department and reopening again for in-person performances.