Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Catching up with myself?

I finally managed to get home, very late, last Wednesday and Thursday, but I did feel I'd got a real grip on the Production Managers' Forum which has been a little neglected of late, but now has some interesting meetings lined up. And I managed to get most of Cueline together, just leaving myself the Editorial, Training and Events pages to do over the weekend....
Friday, though, was my fun day - as a regular contributor to the Stage I get invited to their New Year party in the saloon of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. It's a great event and I met quite a few SMA members there... We talked about the new West End agreement (boo, hiss), the BAPAM (thumbs up) - that's the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, and that covers stage managers, too, it's a charity which can help you access specialist advice for free. And I spoke to Stephen Spence of Equity about the tax situation - more official news on that very very soon. I even met Moira Stuart and she's terribly nice! It's a place to do business, agree meetings, exchange gossip, find out what really went on at this or the other theatre, and network network network!
Back to the grindstone at the weekend - two articles for the Stage to finish, plus that Editorial for Cueline...
Tuesday - this is my last week before I'm off on holiday for two weeks, so trying to get even more things than usual crammed into 3 days. We have a staff meeting to update each other and find solutions to various little or big problems - much better done in a group than on your own! But this is my short day, so just about have time for that and ploughing through the accumulated emails before dashing off to pick up the kids.
Wednesday - well, today has been interesting, what with conversations and emails with the HMRC, still trying to finish the last bits of Cueline, the accounts having come back from the accountants with some queries, Netbanx still causing me a headache as I'm trying to get the system off the ground which will allow the SMA to take credit cards over the phone, too (the website one is now up and running!!), yet another member complaining (quite rightly) that there are so many unpaid jobs advertised on SJP, negotiating a venue for the next Board meeting and training course, and being really happy that membership numbers have gone up again this month! Oh, and I finally got round to writing the Training and Events pages for Cueline which is just as well as David Ayliff is coming in tomorrow to finalise and print it all out with me...
time to go home!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

In the SMA office

Never a dull moment at the Stage Management Association, though I have to confess my whole life is a bit like that - too many interesting things to do and not enough time to do them in!
Anyway, just to add to the fun, I thought it about time that the SMA had a blog, so maybe YOU can tell us a bit more about what YOU're doing, and we at the SMA can tell you what exactly we're up to.
So what are we up to?
Well, there's three of us who work in the office, as you know. Sally is the membership chief honcho and spends the whole of Monday and Tuesday in the office, often part of Wed or Thurs or Fri as well. And she deals totally with the Freelist. On her own. Giant round of applause here, please. She is the person with the most fantastic attention to detail, ever, even by high stage management standards! I'm hoping I'll persuade her to write her own account of what she gets up to on here soon!
Kim is administrator and queen of the website and also deals with a myriad other things - printing out Cueline, organising meeting rooms for the Board meetings, writing up the minutes from those meetings, getting all the stuff ready for various trade shows, and being the life and soul of the party at any SMA events. But again I hope she will tell you a bit more about her work herself at some point. Kim is in the office every Tuesday and Friday and often an hour or two on other days, depending what's on.
Mmmm, what do I do? I find it difficult to summarise, so I might just tell you about my last week... but essentially I'm responsible for the SMA, accountable to you, the members, and the Board of Directors. In consultation with them, and Sally and Kim, we decide on strategies and directions and policies for the SMA. I also do all the representing and going to talk to people. Oh and setting up new initiatives or dreaming them up in the first place... You see what I mean about it being difficult to summarise? Ah, I forgot - I edit Cueline, too... It's a bit like 'stage manager' - I do everything else, and by the way I'm in charge!
So I'm in the office generally on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. But last Tuesday was an exception - I'd been invited by Cirque du Soleil to an event they were holding at the Royal Albert Hall for the industry, to talk to some of their backstage staff and have a look around backstage. I couldn't miss that - I've been trying to write an article about them for Cueline and/or the Stage for three years! And they'd even organised an interview with the stage manager for me! I was really looking forward to that.
Sigh. It nearly worked - yes, I did get to meet their Deputy Technical Stage Manager, their Production Manager for the Royal Albert Hall and the Touring Services Director (that is one hell of a job description, more on that another time!), but the stage manager was - you'll never guess - on paternity leave (spot first big difference to 'normal' UK stage management). And the other stage manager (they have only two - more on that another time) was busy rehearsing something on stage. Grmpf.
Still, plenty of material for an article, but another year to wait for the next Cirque stage manager who calls one of their shows to come to town!
Wednesday. Stage management and tax issue - have Equity cracked it? Still holding our breath though Equity confident. Lots of emails about that. Also, emails since previous Thursday to catch up on - we only have one email address in the office, but use different colours to mark emails for different staff. I'm purple and usually on a Tuesday I have a sea of purple emails to wade through... even more so last week as I wasn't even in on the Tuesday. Urgent ones, obviously, do get forwarded to me at home, or Kim or Sally ring me up, but most stuff can wait till I get in and it's much better this way - at one point, I was doing emails all the time at home and actually felt I was working seven days a week, though I wasn't if you totted up the hours - but I wasn't getting a proper break. Now I feel I'm much more productive on the 3 days I actually work (well, often I do do Fridays as well, but just till 2pm). Long conversation with one of our trainers who is worried a pressing family commitment may get in the way of the course planned for us. We postpone the decision till this week. Pay some bills, set up all the Accounts spreadsheets for this year as our financial year ended December and I've just sent off all the stuff to the accountants. More emails and phone calls trying to finalise the technicalities with Netbanx which will allow us to take credit cards not just on the website (yippee! that's up and running now!), but over the phone, too. Re-write some of the website as Kim and I went through almost the whole of it the previous week to decide which bits needed tweaking and updating.
Pause! I'll carry on another day... too late now... Hopefully at least one more post before I go away on holiday (shock, horror) for TWO weeks on Saturday!