When mass gatherings do return, things are going to be very different to the world of touring as we know it. I see a gaping gap appearing between our skilled crew and an inexperienced next generation.
Whilst studying for my Covid compliance certificate, I recognised that venues backstage and out front will be set up in a new dynamic.
There will be new challenges with respect to:
- Creating work bubbles
- Staggered work calls between different departments
- Travel between one venue to another
- Covid testing
These will add greatly to the challenges when planning for any type of event.
Back-to-backs could be a thing of the past for some time to come. I for sure will miss a tour bus tour where I enjoy creating the ultimate family on the road, and those of you who know me, know how great I make a tour: Tikki bars and pub quizzes on the move all to show appreciation to a valued team for such a hard-working day either behind us or in front of us.
Mental health and anxiety will be ever prevalent in future, so there will be a changing role for people like myself. When I’m on tour, I already find that my desk is the place that people go to ask all sorts of questions – from a runner’s request to a listening ear for support. That “shoulder to lean on” role is bound to become more important.
New Ways of Working
The skilled technical crew is going to find itself in a place of uncertainty, because the changes implemented for Covid regulations will enforce a new way of working.
On a typical show day, it’s rock up, load-in, soundcheck, show, load out, get on the bus, sleep whilst traveling to the next city, wake up, rinse & repeat. This routine is going to be different.
Load-ins and -outs will take multiple dates to execute. We might be sat in a city for days, or even do residences. That alone would bring its frustrations. The crew will want to get going and do what they do best, executing a large show, pulling together different skills and departments:
These are all things that can make a large live show happen in a day.
And this also shows the scale of the problem. Let’s not forget that through Covid, a lot of skilled workers will have retrained to find other jobs, and may decide for whatever reason not to return to live events. We are going to need the skilled crew more than ever when we return, so we can’t afford to lose people.
The Next Generation
Enter the next generation: fresh out of school, college or university; social media savvy, and understanding the streaming platform like a new way of a live event. Engineering or design certificate in hand, they’ll enter the industry only to find out that they’re going to start by learning the ropes of cable bashing or repairing lights
Their first thought will probably be “why am I doing this? Didn’t I train to be a designer?” It’s only natural they think like this. Something that schools often forget to teach is the ability to survive in the real world. Gaining a certificate still means they’ll have to start at the bottom, gaining experience whilst aiming for the top. Experience matters, and it’s important to take the time to gain it.
A good designer, engineer, or head of a department understands all the roles of his crew, and remembers that we all started somewhere. It’s like learning to drive; you don’t learn how to drive properly until after the test.
That’s why I’m so concerned at the possible loss of so many experienced hands. The longer events stay closed, the more people we could lose and the more experience will be lost with them.
I see it and I’m preparing myself for this uncertainty. I will guide and mentor the new generation into roadie life, and for the skilled worker, I will offer support and understanding and welcome change in a nurturing way.
Tensions are already going to be high. Mental health, uncertainty and change are all going to play key roles in live events, and I want to release some of those worries and bridge the gap in an industry that has been so vibrant and given so much joy.