A shortage of crew, and continued pressure on production staff to work extended hours was one of the key concerns discussed at the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) as the events industry prepares for one of the busiest seasons on record.
The huge demand for equipment, services and crew was discussed at length during the first session of the day. Britannia Row Productions director Bryan Grant said, “For first time I am hearing of shows and tours that have had to cancel or postpone because they can’t get people to load equipment in let alone get enough touring staff.”
Grant said that his company’s services are in such high demand that he has been relieved when tours are postponed to next year. “We have gone from one extreme to another,” he said.
Among the many concerns aired about the huge demand for crew was that workers will be encouraged to work unfeasibly long shifts, with negative impacts on their health and potentially the productions they are working on.
It was suggested that part of the problem is that agents are promising artists huge amounts of money but the money does not trickle down sufficiently to a crewing level in order that there is enough funding for a sufficient number of personnel to meet requirements.
Grant said, “The money is there for us to do things in a civilised way. There is different strata in the industry; some people are making obscene amounts of money and others are busting their balls for small amounts. There has to be more fairness.
“I don’t do a lot of festivals because the money is crap and people are treated awfully – some people are working 18-hours days in the mud and vomit. Until we collectively address that, nothing is going to change.”
3T co-founder Freyja Lawson, a PA system technician and monitor engineer, said it was a basic human right for crew to have enough sleep, and tours and festivals should be structured in a way that crew exhaustion is not an issue.
Artist agent Lina Urginovska, CEO of Banana&Salt, said crew members are now more open about saying they need to rest: “There is a long way to go but admitting you are tired and need a break is no longer taboo.”
Grant responded: “If you have a deadline, say a band needs to be on stage, what do you do if someone says’ I can’t do it I am too tired?’.”
NoNonsense Group CEO Liz Madden said that no matter what legislation is in place, there is a culture of bravado among younger workers in the events industry who unbeknown to clients are secretly working for numerous companies and doing double shifts.