MAM advises 5 FAMILY FRIENDLY PRACTICES
towards GENDER BALANCED IRISH THEATRE
(Introduced at Theatre Forum Conference June 2017)
Only two of the following solutions require funding and the costs for these are minimal.
1. Sympathetic Scheduling
Where possible adjust your schedules to accommodate those of your employee, the carer. This costs nothing and enables you to employ the best person for the job rather than just the person who is available.
2. Children in the Work Space
Find appropriate times to allow children into your work space in the care of their parent. This is also free. It enables practitioners and audience, who might otherwise be unable to access your work, to engage with you. As part of this, consider baby and child friendly morning or matinee performances that reflect school hours.
3. Family Friendly Staff Training
A family friendly attitude in your Front of House staff is the cost of one training session. Like the power of all good customer service it pays for itself quickly by generating new audience. If you host a MAM Cuppa or family friendly event, ask any MAM there for advice. All would be happy to help and we would encourage all venues to keep a MAM toy box.
Consider a Pop-Up-Creche. It’s not as expensive as you might think. Garda vetted, registered childminders can be hired from agencies by the hour. Make a specific number of places available via advance booking, A service such as this will expand the demographic that can attend your audition, workshop, forum or performance.
5. Ask The Question …*
AFTER you have contractually agreed to employ anyone, ask them this question:
” Is there anyone in your life whose care you are responsible for and is there any way we can assist you to facilitate this while you work for us?”
This is the game changer. It will radically change the experience of the carers working for you who often hide the challenges they face, fearing their commitment will be in question. This statement from you removes pressure on carers to ‘out’ themselves. It will improve their attitude, output and ability to work creatively. Both PAAL and MAM have adopted the same question as a top initiative for theatres and best practice.
* Recommendation, Ineke Ceder, Wellesley Centers for Women and part of a supported initiative by MAM Ireland and PAAL USA
Implementing these practices in your work will require little extra funding while the results, MAM believes, will reveal extra women and a more gender balanced Irish theatre.
MAM are a member organisation of Theatre Forum and Tara Derrington spoke at the Theatre Forum Conference, Cork in June 2017 where she announced MAM 5 Family Friendly Practices towards Gender Balance in Irish Theatre.
Further Reading from Ineke Ceder.