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March 16, 2022

Reflections from the Home Office

by Betsy Purves, Director of Development

Betsy, Risa, and Evan ready to welcome students back at the beginning of the season.

It’s a story we can repeat in our sleep these days: when the pandemic hit, everything about the way we learn and work changed. For DCYOP, this meant that all of our programming went online. And, along with hundreds of millions of other people across the world, our staff started working from home.

DCYOP’s nimbleness, an often-mentioned trait when we talk about our pivot to virtual learning, has been a huge benefit to everyone who is involved with the organization. I am grateful for DCYOP’s flexibility which, even before March 2020, encouraged staff, faculty, and students to find innovative ways to do our best work possible.

DCYOP has never been a proponent of “well, this is how we’ve always done it,” from how our ensembles operate to the structure of the workday. A lot has been written about how the pandemic disrupted how and when and where and why we work, especially for those of us who work mostly on computers and mostly in offices (or did, pre-pandemic). There’s also been a lot of discussion about the importance of allowing people to step away from work, to give them the space they need to take care of themselves and their families as we continue through each new COVID variant and related new precautions.

That’s easier said than done, of course, especially when you believe passionately in what you do – and when what you do helps others.

There have been bright spots in the blurring between work and life that’s occurred as we’ve transitioned to working from home: my son, who was just two when we became remote, now knows all my colleagues’ faces and names, and asks if he can say hello to “my friends” when he’s around for my Zoom calls. He’s also joined me on some online donor tours, in which we invited supporters to sign into virtual rehearsals to see firsthand how our students were learning virtually, and is very excited to become a DCYOP student when he’s old enough. (On the other hand, our full Board of Directors has now seen him streak through our guest room/office after a bath, which he did yelling gleefully while his father chased after him with a towel and I tried more or less successfully to present a fundraising report.) It was also helpful not to have to commute downtown while I was pregnant with my daughter, who was born in February 2021, as it meant I could work from comfortable locations through a physically difficult few months.

As we look into Year Three of the pandemic, we’re still figuring out what the new normal might be for the metaphorical DCYOP office. And we’re still figuring out how staff can balance work with the other concerns that COVID has brought to the forefront. While we figure it out, we’ll have each other and the music we make together. And for that I am grateful.