AGMA & SDC Recommendations for Returning to Work

I am a member of two different unions for live entertainment, Actors’ Equity Association (for traditional theatre/plays/musicals) and the American Guild of Musical Artists (for opera/ballet). The latter has just released to the public its recommended guidelines for returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic – the AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook. Prior to today, I had a chance to read it as a member, though only by scrolling through it behind the member portal. It is now available to everyone, and can be downloaded. HOWEVER, they would like to remind you that it is a living document – it’s already on version two. If you choose to download it, please go back and look for updates as possible.

I’ve also had the chance to watch three member webinars so far – a general one introducing the playbook, and one each geared towards dancers and singers. We stage managers are looking forward to one for us, directors, choreographers and other staging staff on September 16th. I’ve also had a chance to chat with other AGMA stage managers as well as Raymond Menard (President of AGMA and PSM at Metropolitan Opera), through a Zoom gathering; the AGMA folx on the call were very amenable to discussing the process as well as gaining our input for any updates or things to flesh out. In particular, I asked if they could recommend any specific COVID Complaince Officer/Supervisor training. I also hosted a virtual gathering of dance stage managers last night, where we discussed the playbook a bit, so I was thrilled to be able to share it with them today. (The virtual chat was possible through the Stage Managers’ Association Zoom account, but was also publicized most in the Facebook group I co-administer, Dance Stage Management – come join us in discussions there!)

I started to screenshot some of the interesting parts of the playbook, but I’ve decided not to. Go look for yourself. If nothing else, it gives you some interesting metrics to consider, both as to the state of your community as well as how much square footage MAY be safe. It’s 40 pages long, so it’s a lot to consider….and it’s another whole discussion of whether it’s viable to return to work yet for budgets. But it’s at least some communication and some clearer guidance and food for thought. And it’s encouraging me to do two things – 1) investigate even further into COVID Compliance Officer Training – I’ve done one online course so far, but geared for non-union film workers, and 2) continue to edit my resume to highlight my virtual/Zoom experience! Most of the calculations for space they list aren’t even beginning to list a stage manager yet…and there’s no REAL discussion about trying to do an actual performance with an audience, other than thinking about offstage space as well. This playbook focuses on getting back into the studio, and working up stamina again, too. I’m trying to work on my own stamina too…as far as attention span/concentration, multitasking skills, and just being better about reading again and trying to pay some attention to healthy habits that may have slid. This pandemic is something else, isn’t it?