Hitting the 'reset' button

Collaborative Creations’ Business Development Specialist Nic Farman wants a proper lunch break…and better working practices in the theatre industry.

The world of theatre and live events has always been a high pressure one. You know when you get into this business that it is bloody hard work, and you have to chip in. Whether you work behind the scenes like I do as a lighting designer, or if you are front and centre on stage - you do it because you are an artist, pouring your heart and soul into a project.

In the wake of the pandemic, however, I think many of us have rightfully taken a step back and questioned whether or not we can do things better. Do we need to work thirteen hour days without lunch breaks? Should we be expected to subsidise the lack of time or money on a show?

After a torrid two years that hit our industry especially hard, the most important thing should be supporting our workforce. We need a better work/life balance, one that allows us to spend more time with family and friends. I have been a big fan of the ‘Reset Better’ campaign, which was launched in 2021 and aims to promote better working practices in the theatre industry. I’d urge everyone to visit their website and take a look.

Beyond the obvious benefits to wellbeing, I think there is also an argument to be made that most of us are more productive when we work smarter, rather than harder. I can say from experience that work I’ve created last thing at night after a long day of tech is often the first thing that needs to be fixed the next morning. That suggests that I probably should have saved it until tomorrow in the first place.

Productions need to work with their staff, planning and creating their schedules collaboratively (see what I did there?). They also need to be understanding of the fact that many members of staff will be splitting their time across multiple projects. At the end of the day, very few projects in our industry pay enough to monopolise our time completely. We should acknowledge this more, rather than having it be an unspoken ‘taboo’ to talk about your other work.

So while we’re on the subject - I’ve started a new project! I’ve joined up with the team at Collaborative Creations, where I’ll be continuing my lighting design work but under the CC banner. Alongside my design work, I’ll be working with our clients to build connections with LDs around the UK.

The world of theatre is very fluid, and the team here at CC have been equally flexible. I’m looking forward to working with them going forward, as well as working towards the better work/life balance we would all like to see more of.