If you don’t mind Pantomime, then Christmas for Technicians is great. You’d be pretty much spoilt for choice on the shows to work on (albeit they’re pretty much the same!) and more than often, you can work near your home making it fairly easy getting home for Christmas. That’s what I did for the Panto season and it worked great for me. But as it drew nearer to the end of the run, I found finding work to line up was difficult, either for me, or my colleagues. And so, I find myself in yet another January lull.
This lull has an overall effect on Freelancers, such as myself. If you’re in-house then great, because you have a month of PAT Testing just about every object in the whole of the building! (Because we all know how fun a big, long PAT Test is…) But as the Theatre scene dies down considerably in the months after the traditional Christmas boom-time, you get pretty much stuck twiddling your thumbs! As I run my own company, we’ve had plenty to do for planning the new year. But we’ve now got a pile up of events from the end of March rather than now. I mean, no complaints, but spreading things out would be a bonus!
So I find myself asking and mulling over why January is so quiet. Generally, there isn’t one reason that over arcs them all. Okay, industries all over are quiet, but as ever, Arts has to push continually and this includes creating and producing shows right?
Perhaps the money thing plays too much of a major factor. But it’s so true that the Arts never has any money, so again, pushing to create as so happens the rest of the year. Money then, playing the major part, I feel is an opportunity experimentation and reflection. For example, there should be more Scratch type events, like those at the BAC, charging little money for audiences to find some new stuff. It’s the same with technicians. There should be more opportunity to facilitate these ‘experiments’ within the theatre environment thus requiring technical support. Perhaps bands can try out new material in small low ticket price gigs, or bits and pieces of plays can be staged with some tricky technical content? Or perhaps very little technical content, but at the least for operators to push faders up and down, at the very least?!
This isn’t so much a plea or a cry out for jobs to be created and filled, but a flag-up of how January can be made far more productive. A busy, testing, experimenting, freer first month can help set the foundations and preparations for the rest of the calendar year. New contacts can be made, new artists can be found by audiences and, who knows, even new Genres found by artists?!
Bar all that, hopefully January can be a bit better so I don’t have to spend next year’s Blue Monday struggling so bad in bashing out posts like this!