Recently I attended an event where several poets were due to read. I’m not going to name and shame anyone because individuals no doubt had good reasons, however, a significant number of those who were due to read did not turn up. Some of those no shows did send apologies, but most had not apologised in advance of the event. Fortunately the organised made contigency arrangements and some of us were able to read more than we had planned to. Those who didn’t show up lost out.
Naturally emergencies occur or transport breaks down and, individually, some no-shows have good reasons for not being there and an after-the-event apology isn’t just a courtesy, it’s an acknowledgement someone was inconvenienced. No-shows don’t include those who signed up for an event or agreed to a meeting but warned the organiser that due to disabilities/health issues/transport/caring responsibilities, they may not be able to be there.
When one or two individuals become a group of no-shows who can’t be bothered to send apologies either, they need to bear in mind:
- They are now labelled as time-wasters and will be treated accordingly
- If someone has prepared work in advance of a meeting, they won’t be inclined to do such a good job or dedicate as much time to preparation if another meeting is arranged
- If an event organiser has to deal with performers who are no-shows, those won’t be asked to perform again
- If a workshop organiser is left hurriedly finding stand ins, you can bet the people who didn’t show up won’t be asked again
- If the no-shows are members of a club or group and other club/group members managed to turn up, the no-shows are embarrassments and may harm the reputation of the club/group concerned
- If someone regularly organises opportunities for other writers to perform or showcase their work, the no-shows are limiting their chances of taking up those opportunities
- If someone organises opportunities for other writers puts on their own performance but then finds that people who promised to show up don’t, the organiser is less likely to bother with further events
- Most local live literature events are organised by a volunteer or team of volunteers who will be less willing to give their time if their events are unsupported.
The event was not one I organised. But I know the names of those who didn’t show without explanation.
I regularly attend several writers’ groups and spoken word nights and also organise events both for myself and on behalf of other groups. Readings, launches and other live literature events are great opportunities for networking, meeting other poets and writers and cementing individual reputations. Not showing up means missed opportunities to get invites and hear about other events. Yes, there will always be an occasion where you can’t get to an event you promised to be at, but make sure you send an apology and consider the impact not only the event’s organiser but the other participants and audience.