Stagemanagement Feed

MediaCampBucks & Equity's ARC in one weekend - Part two

Equity's ARC (Annual Representatives Conference) took place on the 18 and 19 May 2008 in London. I was overwhelmed by the interest in my work with social media and in particular on line forums and communities.

I attended this years ARC representing Equity members who are stagemanagers. The Stagemanagement Committee's motion to the ARC about implementing Skype, was accepted by a majority vote as a viable communication method which once instigated will lead to members of committees attending meetings from outside London or whilst away on tour with greater ease and regularity. The Equity website was a hot topic throughout the weekend. People's fear and uncertainty of the Internet is so prolific I took great enjoyment calming fears and quelling anxiety. I think many went home with a little more confidence in technology ready to start exploring the benefits of social media.

It may be hard to believe for some that Equity does not have any form of conference calling available or that applications such as a forum discussions on the website are not yet available. What you have to remember is that this is a work force who do not have a PC on their desk, or a desk for that matter and for the majority who have a PC at home they spend much of their working lives on tour or living in digs with no Internet access. These are the IT curious its just not part of their world. For them the journey is just beginning and for a community so geographically remote from each other the Internet is a gift beneath the Christmas tree that has yet to be unwrapped. Mobile phone web access will be a revelation when they own devises capable and web sites optimized to look at.

It was with the magic of wi-fi and with my trusty laptop I had the opportunity to introduce the IT curious to Second Life giving them a guided tour around Pilot Theatre's Second Life presence. The set designers especially saw the potential of Second Life and 3D environments. I often struggle with business people to convey the power and potential of the 3D web or virtual worlds but here they all got it immediately it was a breath of fresh air.

It was directly in response to the conversations about social media, social networks and Internet security fears during the ARC and their desire to see a functioning social networking application that I came home and created one to give an opportunity to experience first hand a private social network and participate in its growth.

Screenshot01 I'd been considering setting one up using the Ning.com platform model ever since joining the Association of Virtual Worlds. Now I saw it as a way to demonstrate what services I could offer to Equity and other clients by inviting them to take part in one. I could also unite my diverse networks in to one place.

During my career I have collected and recorded my contacts in indexed books and business card files. I have used many time and again and passed names on too. My Indexed books are invaluable as they contain all the businesses I have done business with and the items or services they provided me, and for which production through out my time in stagemanagement and props acquisitions all around the UK. Since turning my eye to the business world I have received business cards like never before. What do I do with them all?

I am a great believer in the purposeful expansion of a business network.

Screenshot02 I have groups for the events or organisations I wish to network with and share with others. I do not wish to take traffic from anyones web site so I encourage members to use my network as a hub. I will also be introducing members to other web 2 platforms with short tutorials written specifically with the community's needs in mind. I'll also be looking at helping them unify their online presence and promote them selves online building a profile to harness the social media channels they develop as their confidence in the Internet grows.

Feedback to me, Is this going to be useful place?
So for my blog readers I would like to invite you to join too. Sign up today.

Theatre industry declares no confidence in Arts Council

I get so frustrated not being able to be at the heart of what makes me tick. This Arts Council fiasco would in the past have left all like me, either out of "town" or on the road, seething and blustering, quietly raging at our colleagues or mumbling on the tour bus at the injustice and the nerve of it all and the... well, a good stomp around the building, the kicking of the odd flat, the rough man handling of a light or two and stubbed fingers to boot before a pause for a well earned cup of tea before the half... ha ha.

Thank you Facebook. Well thank you active members of Facebook who are equally miffed at the current state of affairs in the arts. Since discovering the numerous Save our Theatre facebook groups and creating the Save theatre in the UK meta group it has been heartening to see the membership of these groups rocket. One group "Stop the Cull" is particularly impressive with 1,120 members. Some venues under threat have high sign up numbers. Derby Playhouse with 5,321 and Bristol Old Vic with 2,234 at the time of writing this blog entry.

This (below) is the press release from Equity published today following the much anticipated meeting at The Young Vic Theatre where nearly 500 people turned up meaning the event was standing room only. If you attended I'd like to thank you for representing me. I am sure that goes for the many performers, production creatives and theatre staff up and down the country who live by the adage "The show must go on". This is and will, I hope always be true. However we'd like to be able to feed our selves and keep a roof over our heads. This is hard enough without funding instability and cuts. Another blog entry for a later date I feel!

This response enlivens my sense of hope in my professions sense of self worth and a vigor to stand up and fight. Thank you again to everyone who added their physical presence to the meeting, even if you did have to stand!

The official Equity press release reads:

Image001_4 In a packed meeting at the Young Vic Theatre, London, today (9 January 2008) representatives from across the England’s theatre industry declared they had no confidence in the work of the Arts Council England (ACE) and its proposals to cut funding to more than 190 arts bodies from April this year.

The meeting, organised by Equity, was addressed by Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of ACE, but his attempts to explain the rationale behind the decisions taken by the funding body were rejected by an audience of almost 500 at the standing-room only event. The gathered audience of performers, creative workers and representatives from many of those theatres facing cuts were particularly angry about the very brief consultation period (just five weeks which included Christmas and New Year holidays), the secrecy with which the proposals had been produced and the failure of the Arts Council to make explicit the criteria by which some theatres had been chosen over others.

Amongst the speakers were actors Malcolm Sinclair, who criticised the culture of over-management of the arts, and Patrick Malahide who criticised ACE for lacking a coherent intellectual strategy and actor/director Sam West, who made an impassioned plea for a number of smaller companies whose work would be curtailed by these cuts.

Addressing the meeting, Christine Payne, General Secretary of Equity, welcomed the extra money the government had made available to the Arts Council over the next three years, but said:

“We have a right to know how that money is being spent. We are extremely concerned about how these decisions are being made. Who are the judges? And what criteria are being used? There appears to be a distinct and perhaps deliberate lack of involvement from professional theatre practitioners in the decisions process currently used by Arts Council England. The process is not open, it’s not transparent, there is no dialogue with the theatre community.”

“Unless Arts Council England not only listens to the concerns of people here today but actually takes action to respond to them then the credibility of Arts Council England could be fundamentally and possibly irreparably damaged. We demand a thorough review of the process and procedures used by the Arts Council in reaching funding decisions, and until that review is completed the status quo should apply and the current funding process should cease.”

The meeting ended with a vote of no confidence in the Arts Council England moved by veteran actress Miriam Karlin, which was passed unanimously.

For further information contact:

Martin Brown
Head of Communications and Membership Support
Equity, Guild House, Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9EG
T 020 7670 0259  F 020 7240 6341
E www.equity.org.uk  E www.tvischanging.com


Facebook People Power

Image001_3Happy New Year! Or not so happy if you're working for one of the nearly 200 regularly funded organisations who were told just before Christmas that their funding was going to be withdrawn from April 2008.

Equity have organised a meeting on Wednesday 9th January, 11 am, at the Young Vic which Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, will attend to explain the underlying rationale of the proposed cuts and to hear from Equity members what disquiet their proposals are causing. Read article in The Stage

I guess part of the reason behind this meeting - and what makes it worthwhile - is that the decisions haven't been absolutely taken and it seems that those who create enough of a (public) fuss might possibly be saved from the chop when ACE finally decides at the end of Jan.

Amongst those proposed for a total or major grant withdrawal are London Bubble, Exeter Northcott, Yvonne Arnaud, Pop-Up Theatre, Drill Hall, National Student Drama Festival, Interchange Legal Studios, Brighton's Komedia, 3 chamber orchestras and Eastern Angles.

There's no full list anywhere, but various publications are collecting the info they receive from companies, so you could look at http://www.thestage.co.uk for news or at http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk

I have collected many Save our Theatre Facebook groups.

Links to them all are in the Saving Theatre in the UK meta facebook group. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6587973954

Links are included for Theatres, Funding cuts objections and other related arts fund cuts and causes.

Many have links to petitions and surveys to document support for these enterprises. Check them out and show your support. Especially if you aren't in London to attend the meeting.

And finally... tell people to about this meta group. Saving Theatre in the UK http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6587973954


and I quote....

"Perhaps, therefore, ideal stage managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

-- Sir Peter Hall, director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre of Great Britain.

The Equity Stagemanagement Committee are in search of a quote to appear on the new promotional postcards being created by Equity. Do you know what that quote should be? This is my favourite so far.


Fran and Caron do the Edinburgh Fringe

Last minute rush to let everybody know what I am doing! Updating and publishing web site information before I leave on the 9.30 train from Nottingham and trundle up north to Edinburgh. I am up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Equity. Fran Rifkin (Chair of the committee) and I are spending 4 days at the festival representing the Small Scale Theatre Committee.

The landmark fringe contract rubber stamped and approved my Equity offers security and working structure to small creative companies to take the strain out of the working relationships that too often can come unravelled when working very very close to colleagues and friends. We will be talking to as many performers and stagemanagers as we can plus drinking much coffee and seeing some fine shows or not! depending on the risks we take.

Sstc_online_site_thumbTelling people about what we do and directing them to the committee's web site will be the greatest task and promoting our Mapping the Field exersice which is in full swing will be driving us on too. Oh we might find time to sleep a bit as well.

Go see the site www.sstc-online.org.uk