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Conflicting responsibilities and values

by Erik Glas

The last performance of the precious show is set for the weekend of my second week at Cirkör. We’ll go to Bornholm two days early to compensate for the residency we could not go through with in Finland. It will be a challenge, but we’ve played this show plenty of times so we are confident that we can pull it off.

We all had our negative Covid tests, however, the night before the travels, the roommate of one of the artists receives a positive response on a Covid test. To makes things even trickier, the show suitcase, with all the props and costumes, is also with him.

The full story involves an incredibly resourceful transports-logistics manager, a few crisis meetings in a sauna, the heroic efforts of a stand-in that learned the show and tricks in two days as well as the friend of a friend of a friend taking a trip to the island just to bring the suitcase.

But for now, I’ll focus on the decision of quarantining the artist whose roommate had tested positive.

When we take decisions, the first step is mapping who is impacted by the decision, and the magnitude of the impact. There was the artist that was stuck, the rest of the group, the festival, the audience at the festival and the people we would risk spreading the disease to.

The second step is evaluating what responsibility we have towards each of these parties.

I follow a model that states we have greater responsibility for those closer to us.

I came across this as a model for how to prioritize your personal resources (as in energy, attention and care), but I suspect it applies to organizations as well.

It’s a bunch of concentric circles with yourself in the middle, the people closest to you in the next circle, the people somewhat less close to you in the circle after that etc.

This may seem selfish, but I believe it is the most sustainable way to function. If you care more for the people around you than yourself, you burn out. If you care more for your customers than your employees, you crumble.


As I saw it, we had a conflicting responsibility and there were many factors to weigh against each other.

Toward the artist that was stuck

We had all been hit with the pandemic. Losing out on salary as well as the chance to leave your home, and not getting to finish the story of the show. All of it would be heavy.

Toward the rest of the group

On top of everything that came from isolating this last year, getting a performance together without the full team and without training together for almost a year was sure to be difficult.

Toward the festival

They had printed their program, advertised and sold tickets, and relied on us to be the big last show of the evening.

Toward society

With a pandemic spreading, people sacrificing a lot to slow it down. We could not be as reckless as to risk transmitting the disease to an airport and across a border.


With this laid out, we can evaluate the effects. We could even make it into a formula like: 



And so, how we value these factors determine our decisions. Our values determine our decisions.

Published on 18.07.2021

NHLP has been made possible with the support of Nordisk Kulturfond and Nordic culture Point, Nordic Council of Ministers, and Lund Municipality


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