Cam is in his 4th Year studying BA Music (International) at the University of Leeds
I’m not going to lie, being on committee this year was a rather large surprise given that I had little involvement with the society in the year prior, however I am extremely grateful for the chance to have come back into the fold and play a part in steadying the ship post-upgrade and setting the foundations for the future of a society which has played such a large part in my time at Leeds. I wholeheartedly believe that this future is a very, very bright one indeed. As with any role of the committee, there are two aspects. Firstly, you have your named role and all of the responsibilities relating to that (which I will talk about later on), and then in addition you are also a committee member. This means that for at least half of your time you are simply representing the members and working hard to ensure that their experience is as enjoyable and rewarding as possible, whether that is representing their views in committee meetings or being around during shows to support members and answer any questions that they may have.
The role of equipment and safety secretary was created in 2011 (before even my time!), a role which India Arden stepped into from the role of President. This, like many of the other roles, including the more recently created Publicity and Communications Secretary, was created to assign responsibilities to a specific person on committee to ensure that they can be carried out to their fullest. What are these responsibilities I hear you ask? Well, read on…
“The role of the E+S Secretary can be molded to suit the person elected to the role. As an example, this year I have played a large role in overseeing our equipment that we use and advising members on its use across all areas.”
As there are no current constitutional responsibilities for any of the roles outside of the exec, the role of the E+S Secretary can be molded to suit the person elected to the role. As an example, this year I have played a large role in overseeing our equipment that we use and advising members on its use across all areas.
As of this year we now own radio microphones and receivers, and this adds to our collection of tools in the workshop to make up the equipment that we own. It is the responsibility of the E+S secretary to ensure that all of this is looked after and maintained in working order. You don’t need to be able to fix everything yourself, instead the responsibility is simply to ensure that it is done, so you just need to be able to utilise your contacts! The majority of the equipment that we use is technically owned by the Union, on the terms that they fund the maintenance of said equipment and provide adequate training to ensure that we can use the equipment safely. In my role overseeing our equipment I have also been keeping track of the consumables that we own and replenishing stocks when they run low. Numerous packages of flambar and tape have arrived at my house over the year, only serving to reinforce the fact that I’m a muppet and should’ve got them delivered to the union rather than having to carry it all into the Riley (a handy tip for my successor!). I must admit one of my happiest moments of the year was realising that I had the power to acquire actual spike tape for the stage and proper black and yellow hazard tape, it’s all about the little things in life!
Whilst we are still in the process of moving back into spaces that we can call our own, I am excited to be able to spend my Easter organising our equipment and what should go where (fancy tape, organisation and labelling – life really doesn’t get much better!), so if any of you are around over Easter drop me a line and I’ll probably be around sorting and inventorying our equipment and tidying all of our spaces to a suitable standard.
“It is imperative that everything we do is approved by the Union before any risks are taken and it is the job of the E+S secretary to ensure that this happens.”
For the safety aspect of the role this year I have introduced a new set of show safety procedures that I provide to the PM’s to ensure that each show is carried out in a safe manner (I’m sure that any recent PM will tell you of the pleasure of the lengthy email they’ve received from me!). This was an adaptation of some of our old procedures inspired by Rob Palin’s infamous email back in his time as E+S. This is still very much a work in progress and something that I hope to be able to pass on to my successor for them to continue to tweak and improve how we run our shows. When checking the safety aspect of our society I have liaised with a number of contacts both within the Union and from the hire companies that we work closely with. It is imperative that everything we do is approved by the Union before any risks are taken and it is the job of the E+S secretary to ensure that this happens. A large part of this is our template risk assessment and guidance for the safety procedures which I plan to revisit and update over Easter so that everything is up to date and thoroughly water tight before the next committee takes over.
One of my biggest projects since my previous time on committee was the idea of creating and providing learning resources for members. To write and utilise guidance for each of the roles allows members to be able to have greater independence in new or unfamiliar roles, whilst still having the support of the more experienced members around them. This is yet another project of mine for the Easter holiday – to leave these in a state in which they can be given to PMs and distributed through the crew.
Like I’ve said above, the role of E+S is pretty flexible and would suit a number of different people. So long as there is the enthusiasm and willingness to learn, there is no reason why someone cannot make a great contribution in this role. It really can be a lot more fun than it is often made out to be!
“Even if you are unsure, I would highly recommend that you run for committee if you feel that it is something that you’d be interested in, as you never know what happens come the voting in the AGM!”
This year I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a number of shows with a variety of crews in a variety of roles. At the point of writing I have now been actively involved in 41 Backstage shows across every role that you could imagine on crew (and some you probably can’t!), and I think that puts me in good authority to say being able to be on committee and serve the members (as well as being an extremely keen member myself) has been one of the best things I could’ve done with my time in Leeds. Even if you are unsure, I would highly recommend that you run for committee if you feel that it is something that you’d be interested in, as you never know what happens come the voting in the AGM! One thing is for sure, I don’t regret taking that chance.
By far the best memories I will take away from this year are those where I have had the privilege to witness and play a role in the growth of our members. As I’m sat writing this, I’m watching the first fully crewed night of American Idiot as a co-Production Manager literally welling up with immense pride at what has been a crew that no words can describe. Those who know me know that I’m pretty poor with words at the best of times, but I’ll try to describe the indescribable regardless! The endless enthusiasm, positivity and professionalism from each and everyone of the American Idiot crew will stay with me for a long time to come. The perseverance and aptitude for continual improvement in the face of adversity is commendable in the highest order. You have all made me extremely proud, and you have left me with no doubts that Backstage Society will continue to be playing a great part in enhancing the lives of students at this university for years to come. I couldn’t be more proud to have had the chance to be one of the PM’s for all of you.
I am aware that I’m often not the most outspoken (well, I do occasionally have my moments…) or approachable person but please do contact me if you have any questions at all, whether they’re relating to this role, other committee roles or anything backstage related in general. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, message me on Facebook or simply chat to me in person – I’d be more than happy to answer any questions that you have, or even to simply talk backstage. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t enjoy doing it and talking about it!
By Cam Race
Posted on 17th March 2017