How to have a telethon during a pandemic.

It takes literally thousands of people to ensure TeleMiracle’s success year after year. Kin clubs, Committee volunteers, production crew, office staff, National Cast, local talent, funding recipient stories, fundraisers, all the donors, and last but not least, the Producers.

For the past three TeleMiracles Charlene and Norm Shuttleworth have been at the helm of the telethon. Bringing all the pieces together and overseeing the execution of the plan that creates what you see on the television and what is streamed online.

In March 2020, TeleMiracle 44 took place, about 5 days before they shut the province down for the COVID-19 pandemic. We were very lucky that we were able to hold our one major, annual, fundraising event before large events were cancelled and without any COVID-19 cases being linked back to the show.

Not long after that, discussions began, to answer the question, “What do we do if this pandemic is still on next year?”

Planning a “normal” TeleMiracle takes about nine months. Planning a TeleMiracle when you don’t know what the situation will be one week from now, let alone one year, takes a miracle.

Over the summer, Norm and Charlene came up with a plan that would allow TeleMiracle to take place, while still following COVID-19 protocols and public health orders given by the Government of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

Major changes would need to be implemented in order to adapt an event that would go

We’d have to go down to the minimum number of workers required to put on the show. To give an example of the cuts required, the room where people ate went

In the Fall, the plan was presented to all those involved. Thankfully there was almost unanimous acceptance, because those involved knew that the alternative was to cancel the show and that the changes were temporary.

From there new venues were booked for auditions and for the telethon itself and talks began with the SHA to make sure we were being safe enough to go ahead. Then day by day, item by item, decision after decision…every, single, aspect of the show was re-evaluated and modified or cancelled.

Despite the uncertainties:

  • would the Sask. Talent auditions and the telethon be allowed to take place,
  • would there be an outbreak (before, during or after the show),
  • how would all the changes be received,
  • how much of an impact on the final total would the current economic situation have,
  • would we raise enough to make it through another year?

 

and despite the enormous amount of stress everyone was under, the Producers’ plan came together beautifully! The show went quite smoothly (except for the smoke alarm going off and the building having to be evacuated for a few minutes), and thanks to the people of Saskatchewan, this “new” TeleMiracle ended up reaching the third highest total in TeleMiracle history! All without any COVID-19 cases being linked back to the show or the pre-recording sessions, or the auditions!

Congratulations to our wonderful Producers on this incredible accomplishment! It’s a team effort, but it starts with great leaders.

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