Planning your own MAM’s cuppa in 10 points
This all started with a cuppa and a conversation about the difficulties of being a parenting theatre artist. This sharing and peer acknowledgement helped all involved.
Isolation is identified as a key driver in feelings of loneliness; sense of having ‘not made it’; frustration at being ‘out of the loop’; being misunderstood as ‘the arty one’ at the school gate and the desperate loneliness that can come when you are unable to engage with your art form in the way you did before or engagement with other theatre making artists. This and the difficulty of unsustainable wages throughout the sector with spiraling childcare costs cause many of us to give up; step back and for some change direction. Not all these changes are bad and we many hats across our lifetime.
However if we do need time out, how do we get back in?
The MAM’s cuppas allow women share their child birth and rearing stories within the context of their creativity. No one judging anyone’s parenting choices but acknowledging that the industry needs to take acknowledge the talent drain caused by prevailing paternalistic attitudes to parenting and motherhood.
So you want to host one here are 10 points to help you:
- Contact your local theatre or arts venues and ask if them to give you access to a child friendly space in the foyer or rehearsal room for a MAM’s cuppa. The advantage of this is two fold. Firstly it brings us back in to venues we may not have engaged with in a while. Secondly, it puts it up to the organisation to cater for parenting artists of either gender. Also once you get one venue on board it puts it up to others to follow suit, so move about.
- Contact one of the Facebook Admins. to set up an event on Facebook to share among members there. Remember not everyone is on Facebook so throw out your net to the actor you haven’t seen in a while, or the director you used to pal about with, etc.
- We found 10-12am is a good slot and possible around naps etc. It also suits venues.
- Create a rough agenda. The first meeting will be sharing your stories so do use a talking stick. We have used a rolling pin in the past. The content of the meeting is private and not to be shared outside of the meeting in ANY contexts ( even conversations with partners). We are a small sector and enough challenges without creating more for others.
- Share the organisation, hosting, note taking and agenda creating. This stops burn out and is vital for your MAM group to go beyond three meetings.
- Keep it light for summer, xmas and school holidays. With full time care on our hands over the school holidays, be kind to your self and not get demoralised by small numbers. They will up once schools return. If you are going ahead, a playground with access to good coffee goes a long way.
- Put a call out for clean unbroken toys to occupy the small ones. A roll of paper and crayons can help too. Any toys left over at the end of the meeting can be left in the venue with a note suggesting that they can be used by other parenting artists visiting the building or for your return visit. This keeps our presence in the building and an awareness of the challenges of all parenting artist.
- Keep in touch. Let us know how you get on; photos and guest blogs are always needed and ask if there is anything we help you with and if you need assistance accessing certain venues,come back to us. Easier for us to name and shame an unhelpful venue than for you as a local.
- We haven’t included men at our meeting yet but don’t feel like you have to exclude men. However we found that many of our meetings of all women allowed participants to talk openly and frankly about the actual birth experience; their postpartum body ; the dynamics of their domestic situation as a reflection of the wider societal oppression of women and mothers. This maybe curtailed by the presence of someone who has not experienced these issues.
- Have fun and be open to all the possibilities of collaboration and support these interactions have to offer.
We are not alone. Other links to give you some ideas:
Mothers who Make UK
ProCreate Project UK
An agency aiming to provide practical help and financial support to enable artists to continue producing work during pregnancy and motherhood
Cultural ReProducers are an evolving group of active cultural workers who are also parents. This site is for anyone interested in making the art world a more inclusive and interesting place by supporting arts professionals raising kids.
Supporting Parenting Film Makers UK
The Magdalena Project
The Magdalena Project is a dynamic cross-cultural network of women’s theatre and performance, facilitating critical discussion, support and training. It is a nexus for diverse performance groups and individuals whose common interest lies in a commitment to ensuring the visibility of women’s artistic endeavour.