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The Usual Nonsense

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Quite agree, so I sent them this:


Today Allan Glen, describes the live music industry as overstretched, yet thousands of people complete event music and film and tv courses each year only to find difficulties getting jobs.


Many more people in the industry leave each year as pay and conditions can make it hard to retain staff, the regional theatres have just agreed a 3.5% pay increase for technical staff, many of whom are very talented, qualified and multi skilled. Yet pay rates for technicians, who are often now expected to be fully qualified electricians as well as sound engineers, riggers, AV and camera operators, H&S risk assessors, lighting engineers, carpenters etc. very often are thousands lower than other sectors.


The touring industry relies of the dedication of workers prepared to spend large amounts of time away from home and family and many of these workers are single person freelance contractors, who are on short term contracts that leave little room for rainy day provision.


The Industry is seasonal and equipment is expensive and short lived, even when it lasts often it will go out of fashion everyone wants the new toys on tour but few want to pay the true price for this. It is little wonder that many people leave the industry as they get older, once the excitement of meeting the first few famous people falls off, and the reality of long hours, late nights, endless hotel rooms (or at the lower end long dangerous drives home after late work) comes home, many people find a nine to five job appealing as the start to want roots and a family.


Creating another learning provider is ok but many institutions already exist that offer good courses, Trade associations in the industry have been working hard to help freelance workers and to create a frame work for young people entering the industry for the first time. The PSA has introduced a safety passport scheme. PLASA has gained awarding body status from the QCA and has developed the only national entertainment rigging qualification and is considering what else is needed by the industry in terms of qualifications.


I have been involved with the updating of the electrical standard for the events industry BS7909, which is now at it's public draft stage, I hope that in time some qualifications will be developed that encompass this new advice, in a manor that is accepted as a proof of competence by local authorities who often place conditions in entertainment licences for electrical safety. This type of work by trade associations and individuals who donate time, skill and experience I believe has far more impact than spending vast sums of money on new institutions.


The creation of skills centres, benefits the lucky few who are able to attend but the work of dedicated people to create national standards available for educational establishments around the country to include in their own programs is I believe far more valuable and something that deserves funding far more. In an industry full of small firms the opportunity cost of donating time and the expense of travel and possibly accommodation can prevent some of our best most experienced experts participate in this process more.

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