Last night Some Am-Dram Saved My Life

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Creative Industries, Mental Health, Theatre

I know that this blog is primarily about how to apply business skills to your Arts Business, but I will from time to time bring mental health to the forefront of discussion because I think it should be openly discussed and it’s an important conversation.

The Arts Industry is rife with people who struggle with their mental health and (although I will admit that I have no scientific research behind this) I would argue that there are more individuals battling with invisible illnesses like anxiety and depression in this industry than in any other.

Sometimes working in the arts feels like a constant uphill climb.  We are encouraged to go out there and live our dreams, but we are never told how hard it is going to be.  The hours are long and the pay is often low.  Environments can be stressful, and experiences can bend you to complete breaking point.

 

Now please don’t get me wrong:

 

I love the arts!

 

And however much there are times I want to pack it all in and runaway forever Lady Theatre keeps dragging me back!  There is nothing like the creative industry.  The rush, the excitement and the passion!

 

A few years ago (without going into too much detail) both my personal and professional life began to crumble and I started to fall apart.  I went on long term sick leave with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety and vowed never to work in the arts industry again.

After a year of struggling I couldn’t even bring myself to open my laptop and the idea of searching for a new career made me feel physically sick but I knew I needed to do something, if only to appease my friends and family to show them that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

A neighbour had told me about a charity panto that would be taking place in February called: ‘Goldilocks and the Three Martians’.  

“They always need volunteers to help with props and set” I was told.  She passed on my details and found out the rehearsal times for me.

So one Friday, when I was having a good day, I decided to push myself to attend a rehearsal.  I was instantly introduced to the Head of Props who immediately gave me a copy of the script, talked me through all the things which needed making and invited me for a meal to meet the rest of the crew.

I went, I chatted. I was instantly enveloped into a family of different personalities who had one key thing in common: they LOVE theatre.

Now, a year later, I am the official stage manager of this year’s panto: ‘Sinbad goes Down Under’ and I have been involved in crewing, building and propping the entire amateur dramatics programme in the Solihull Area. 

More importantly, I have learnt how to manage my depression and I have remembered why I fell in love with the arts industry.

I used to be quite the cynic about amateur dramatics.  Basically, I was a bit of a snob.  I felt like there was a strong divide between “professional theatre” and “amateur theatre”.  To a point it is instilled in you at arts school that you are somehow better than that, above it.

But there is something beautiful about amateur dramatics though.  It is pure and innocent.  There is none of the economic politics.  Everyone is there because they love what there doing, whether that is onstage or off.  They have become an immediate community of likeminded friends. 

 

And they have reignited my desire for this industry and helped me find my way in this beautiful life. 

 

If ever you’re feeling lost in what is often an overwhelming world, I implore you to seek out the hobbyists in your industry!  They may not be the most professional, the most innovative or have the highest production values but none of that matters!  They are the most positive and passionate groups and they just might relight your fire.

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10 Must Have Skills to Smash Your Admin: Part 1

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills

We all know the worst part of running any company in the creative industries is the boring paperwork.  Sometimes we get completely swamped with the ‘business’ side of activities that it leaves little or even no room for the fun parts!

 

It is therefore important to know the key skills necessary to smash out your admin tasks or (if you’re lucky enough) to hire the perfect administrative assistant to smash out your admin quickly and efficiently!

 

  1. Great Communication Skills

This seems pretty obvious, I know, but nowadays you need to be literate in all kinds of methods of communications: face to face, email to messenger, text to WhatsApp, phone to facetime… nowadays there are hundreds of different ways to approach customers, clients and colleagues.

Not only do you need to know how to use all of these platforms, but you also have to be able to deduce the appropriate manner for each different medium.  For example, Messenger, Text and Whatsapp generally have a more relaxed and casual tonality whereas email is generally more like a letter form.  These tend to be longer and full of more professional sounding vocab.

Great Communicators also tend to be great readers of people.  In a very short amount of time they can deduce how to speak to someone in an appropriate manner whether this is matey and approachable or professional.  There is often a fine line in the creative industries so be sure and, if in doubt, air on the side of professionality.

 

  1. Time Management

A good administrator is an excellent timekeeper.  I often find it useful to keep timetables which are designed so that I can use my time in the most efficient manner.

A great administrator also has the inherent ability to gauge the weight of certain tasks and prioritise them appropriately in order to get the most pressing tasks completed first.

An unbelievable administrator makes you think that they have all the time in the world even when they are the busiest ever.  That calmness can be infectious especially when there are lots of deadlines to meet.

 

  1. Microsoft Office (and their Apple Equivalents)

Every job you ever work in, whatever industry, wherever it is, will almost certainly require you using Microsoft Office (or the similar mac programmes like Pages, Numbers or Google Docs).

It never ceases to blow my mind how many job apps request this as a must have requirement in job application because I am of the opinion that if you don’t know the basics of Word, Excel and PowerPoint then where the hell have you been?! It’s been around since 1995! Have you been living in a box!

To give some clarity: that’s nearly a quarter of a century.  If you haven’t tried to learn how to copy and paste by now there is no hope for you!  It’s like living in France for 25 years without learning how to say ‘Bonjour’.

No more excuses!  If you don’t know how, ask Google and if you need visual guidance YouTube it!

 

  1. Problem Solving Abilities

I love problem solving!  Whether it’s that buzz of on the spot quick fix results or the longer term negotiating, searching for an answer until you find one that is just right, there is a real rush that runs alongside finding the perfect solution to a problem.

How can you be a great problem solver?  You need to be able to spot the problems, find solutions, pick the best one and most importantly apply your strategy then evaluate it to assess if it has worked.

Sometimes you have to perform all of these almost instinctively in a matter of seconds. I once, in a moment of genius and madness, played the part of the Magic Mirror in a pantomime of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ when we had a technical problem. I was the Deputy Stage Manager but safe to say I was an awesome Understudy.  Although in moments (especially like that) it is partially instinctive, it is definitely something that can be learnt and gets easier the more you do it.

 

  1. A ‘To Do’ List

Learn to love a list!

Lists have some real benefits in the admin world:

  • You don’t forget things – carry a notebook round, jot it down in your phone, whack it on a post it, whenever and wherever it pops into your head!  Then compile it into a list later! And never forget anything again.
  • Think of the happiness – every time you cross something off a list you get a tiny kick of dopamine.  That little burst of excitement drives you on to check off the next thing, so however big or small write it down so you can cross it off.
  • Reward yourself – whether this is something as minor as the satisfactory sound made by Swipes or the way that Trello turns green or the physical action of checking something off a handwritten list or ripping a page out your list book it is unbelievably satisfying.  And our brain finds them encouraging pushing us onto achieve even more!
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APP OF THE MONTH: Ravelry

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in App of the Month, Networking, Social Media
Name Ravelry
Product Description So, technically not an app but a great online community designed especially for crafters!
Availability Only Available through your browser at https://www.ravelry.com/
Key Features ·         A way for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, and dyers to find like-minded folk!

·         Stay up to date with the latest yarns, tools and projects

·         Free and paid for patterns available to download.  You can use outright or as inspiration.

·         User based content from similar hobbyists

·         Meet and stay in touch with people from all over the world

·         Find different themed groups to suit any crafters needs

·         Upload your projects in an online notebook to share what you’re working on and make your patterns available online.

·         Create an advertising account with specific craft products or services and know you’re directly reaching your target audience!

Prices and Plans FREE!

Think of it like Facebook but for material makers!

Biggest Pro The instant community you find at the mere click of a button!  If you’re a designer or maker, or even a specialist product developer for the craft sector then you’re bound to find friends through Ravelry.
Biggest Con They don’t have any apps currently available for direct access from your phone or tablet but it’s easy enough to log in from your browser.  They also have a page that gives you a list of recommended apps here. https://www.ravelry.com/about/apps

 

Do you love Ravelry? Tell us all about your Ravelry experiences in the comments!

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