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Minutes - Company Mangager Zoom Meeting 29th May  


Éanna Whelan
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Developing C19 Guidelines

  • Don’t want to end up with wildly differing sets of guidelines - company guidelines and venue guidelines, and then different guidelines for different sorts of venues – County Council/Local Authority run venues, commercial venues etc.
  • There is work being done towards trying to implement one set of guidelines that will be tailored to each venue so that there aren’t the issues of various different guidelines. There will be a lot of overlap in house and company guidelines. The idea is that we work early on it to ensure there is as much joined up thinking as possible between venues, companies and other stakeholders like local authorities.
  • Set a preliminary set of guidelines now, then move with government and health authority’s recommendations.
  • If you are having difficulty writing C19 protocols, there is a wealth of knowledge out there, so get in touch with colleagues in venues or other companies for support.

C19 Officer Role

  • C19 Officer – role of the C19 officer doesn’t need to be huge. As with any other health and safety role , it’s about implementing policy and policing it to whatever degree is practicable. Can’t expect that the C19 officer will be hovering over everyone’s shoulder.
  • There needs to be a high level of personal responsibility and buy in for safety and compliance practices.
  • Currently in Druid, Jean Hally is taking responsibility for rehearsal room protocols, while Production Manager is taking charge of C19 compliance in production team and workshop, and office team member is managing compliance in the office.

Supporting Colleagues

  • Not only a question around supporting people who have to take sick days, but supporting people who are not ready to go back to work yet or who will need additional supports due to C19 vulnerability when they return to work.
  • Supporting people who are more vulnerable is just another layer of risk assessment and pre-planning to ensure that risks have been weighed up and mitigated to the greatest degree possible. It’s what we do anyway, eg: won’t ask someone with a bad back to lift something heavy, just another layer of conscientious planning.
  • Danger of losing talent from the industry as people find that they are no longer able to maintain financial viability, have become disillusioned with the industry, or have dropped off from the sector for other reasons.

Working In and With Venues

  • Idea of company residencies/pairings with theatres and arts centres for producing so that we can minimise contact across different rehearsal venues, production venues etc. Using a venue to put a show together from start to finish and then putting the show on for a longer run so that you can build up the audience you would have had for a one night stand previously. There have been some discussions around this. Get in touch with venues that you would like to work with and see if they would be interested in pairing for something like this.
  • Worth exploring the possibility of producing and touring as a household.
  • Arts Centres are there, arts council are interested in getting them running again, and rehearsals and production are a strong option for getting venues open again before performances start again. Rough Magic looking at this sort of close relationship with a venue to get up and running again.
  • Look at other streams of funding to support this kind of work, and push for reallocation of money.
  • There is flexibility in the operation models of production companies that don’t have venues, and it is worth exploring this flexibility.
  • When touring work to venues, communication with production/touring companies and venues will need to start much earlier. Venue techs have discussed this too. Want to get all information far enough in advance so that troubleshooting and pre-planning can happen as early as possible so that things are solved before anything goes on the road.
  • Tech schedules will be longer, to account for C19 compliance and safety consideration.
  • Additional considerations to take into account for site-specific or outdoor work – benefits in terms of social distancing and audience capacities, but things like toilet provision and other facilities will need to be thought through carefully.
  • What is the story with insurance and compliance?
  • May have to take longer rehearsal and production periods, and consider financial implications of this.
  • Looking to European models and practices around rehearsal periods and how production companies work with and in venues.
  • Taking this opportunity to make our practice more efficient.

 

Finance & Lobbying

  • Have to consider how to get a sense of trust in the industry, and make it clear that the industry is essential and needs support.
  • Regarding lobbying to government: It is much stronger in other European countries than here, with national companies directly approaching government with information and requests about what was needed to get them back on their feet post-covid. Need to up strength behind our lobby groups to ensure feasible future for the arts industry coming out of the pandemic. Can’t have groups working hard separately in a vacuum.
  • Many groups like LiveNation are lobbying already, but corporate and non-funded side of the industry is more represented in lobbying at the moment than funded companies. Conversation is lacking – lots of pointed lobbying, but a conversation between large national portfolio orgs and other funded orgs would be of huge benefit.
  • Government are aware that they can’t write our policies and documents for us because they don’t know the industry, so that document and those guidelines need to come from the industry to the government.
  • Value in lobbying the general public to support the industry, to highlight the value of the industry across the board and the need for public support behind the industry. NCFA launching a campaign to this effect soon.
  • Need to gauge changes in reactions to social distancing and return to normal activity. How comfortable are people going to venues? What would make them feel safe? What do venues and companies need to do to get people in the door. Look at different demographics/
  • Until funding questions posed to the Arts Council are answered and advice is published, it’s difficult for funded organisations to step up, since they are uncertain about future capacity.
  • Breaking down arts/entertainment dividing barrier to make a bigger impact on public.
  • Difficulty in budgeting and planning with substantial uncertainty.
  • Venues income has been decimated, with most coming from box office. At this stage it’s a case of calculating how to keep staff paid. Not looking at opening until September. There won’t be any work to put on before that because production companies will need time in rehearsal and production. With social distancing reducing capacities in auditoria and the staffing required to implement it, it will be difficult to make anything pay. Arts Council wants to get venues open again so that artist can begin working in them, but it’s all a question of whether there is the funding available to do so.
  • Uncertainty for production companies in how and when money that was drawn down at the start of the crisis can be spent. Need clarity before any plans can be implemented.
  • Storage and other maintenance costs are a worry. There needs to be a high level of personal responsibility and buy in for safety and compliance practices. Continuing to build while we are unable to work to generate income.
  • We are looking at smaller scale shows – one and two handers with minimal sets, props, costumes etc – for the next while after the lockdown is lifted.
  • Difficulties in changing programming model of companies.
  • We were getting into a good place in the industry before this happened, bigger shows were back out on the road after the scaling back that followed the 2008 downturn. Things will pick up again, this is just another hurdle to cross.
  • Important to stay positive. Yes, it’s difficult, but there are lots of us working to improve things. The industry has bounced back from difficulty before and can again.
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