SMA Conference: PRESS RELEASE
The First Ever Stage Management Conference on 12th February called for an urgent review of stage management job titles and hierarchy.
"There has always been an assumption that stage managers start as Assistant Stage Managers, move on to Deputy Stage Managers and eventually become Stage Managers," explains Barbara Eifler, outgoing Executive Director of the Stage Management Association1, organisers of the event. "However, the job descriptions are very different - a great DSM does not necessarily make a great stage manager, and, on the other hand, dedicated 'Career DSMs' and their experience are of great value to producers of hugely complicated and potentially technically dangerous shows in the West End - they shouldn't feel they have to, or are expected to, move on to become Stage Managers."
The conference plenary session, entitled 'Valuing Stage Management', asked for Equity and management associations to review the titles, suggesting 'Showcaller' as an alternative for 'Deputy Stage Manager'. And rather than scaling payments to job titles, hierarchical payments would be more appropriate, in delegates' view, in order to reward and recognise experience and scale within each job. This would reflect the value of the experienced ASM, Showcaller or Stage Manager over that of the novice, and the responsibility and breadth of each role depending on the scale and size of the show.
Stephen Spence, Equity Assistant General Secretary - Industrial & Organising, who was in attendance at the conference commented: "There is certainly a lot of food for thought there for us as the union representing stage managers. We need to consider the points raised by the conference and consult with our Stage Management Committee and the wider Equity stage management membership."
As well as an affectionate look at her stage management roots and skills by RSC Executive Director Vikki Heywood, and the plenary session in the morning, the conference also premièred what Eifler has named the 'Stage Management Anthem' - words specially written by Stage Backstage co-editor A K Bennett-Hunter to the tune of 'There's no business like show business' and performed by West End's Beverley Klein, accompanied by Steve Edis on keyboard.
The afternoon break-out sessions, packed to the rafters, revealed how urgently this event, attended by 150 stage managers and others from the industry, is needed both as a discussion and training forum. Following the success of this inaugural one, it is anticipated the Stage Management Conference will become an annual event.
Further details will be available in due course. For further information contact Sharon Calcutt on firstname.lastname@example.org