News From Britt Hill – September 2017

I had not planned on writing about a power outage for the September column. Mother Nature had different plans. When you think about it, we were due. Britt concerts have lucked out for 55 years. With that statistic, we had already beaten the law of averages. We should be grateful.

There are two facts that are indisputable; Jacksonville experienced a severe storm that resulted in a citywide power outage and the cancellation of a Britt show on Tuesday August 7, 2017.

From an operational standpoint, safety and communication were our primary goals during the very difficult three hour period. As patrons patiently waited and remained flexible to the changing weather conditions and show updates, backstage, your Britt team encouraged the artist management to hang in there, we communicated with the National Weather Service, and Pacific Power hoping that the show could go on. At the same time, we were busy protecting millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and planning for an emergency evacuation. All the while, we made announcements using both a bull horn in the crowd and an emergency PA system throughout the evening. The Production, House, and Marketing staffs were working furiously behind the scenes on multiple issues and dealing with a barrage of questions from patrons.

In the end, Mother Nature won out. With the help of our incredible staff and Britt Society volunteers, we managed to get over 2,000 patrons off the hill without a single injury in the complete dark of night. I have never been more proud of our team. Additionally, the overwhelming majority of the patrons were patient, kind and supportive.

Following the cancellation there was some misinformation shared on social media. So, let me set the record straight:

Britt offered full refunds to anyone who purchased tickets

Britt did have a back-up PA system and Britt did use a bull horn

Five years ago Britt looked into the cost of show cancellation insurance. It was $100,000 for the season. This premium was reconfirmed on August 11, 2017. Britt has never been nor will it ever be in a financial position to absorb that kind of expense. If you do the math over the past 5 years, we would have spent ½ million dollars. The August 7 cancellation did not cost Britt $500,000.

Lastly, as a 501c3 non-profit organization struggling to make ends meet, and the set costs of the cancelled show including the full artist fee, our suggestion to donate the ticket purchase was entirely appropriate.

With that said, this was a learning experience for Britt. We will be looking into installing a more powerful back-up public announcement system and emergency lighting when the benches are replaced.

Patron safety is THE top priority at Britt. We will learn and improve our ability to handle emergency evacuations and procedures based on this event. I just hope that the updated handbook won’t need to be pulled out for another 55 years.

See you on the Hill in September!