Agenda items for SMT meeting: assisted performances
One of the key ways of embedding assisted performances into the culture of your organisation is to table an item at every relevant meeting. If there is nothing specific to discuss at a meeting, the item can be passed over but, as long as it is there, the topic is kept within the consciousness of everyone participating in the meeting. It also creates the opportunity for informal reporting on departmental or team activity relating to assisted performances and may create a platform to celebrate successes in service delivery.
The person responsible for access in your organisation will prove to be an invaluable resource and it may well be appropriate to invite them regularly to SMT meetings, if they are not already part of that group, in order that they can inform discussions. It may be that they could take a lead on some of these agenda items; that way they will be able to build communication with key people across the organisation, if that need is not currently being met.
It is vital that there is someone on the SMT who is prepared to champion this work and support the Access Coordinator. The worst case scenario is that the Access Coordinator is acting with responsibility but without authority.
Introducing assisted performances into organisational practice
Here are suggestions for agenda items that might be useful if you want to encourage a shared responsibility for assisted performances. They are structured so that, by the time you discuss each team’s responsibilities, everyone should be clear about why assisted performances are important and where they fit into the overall activity of the organisation:
Why do we programme assisted performances (the sticks)?
- Your legal duties
- Any specific funding requirements you have relating to access and inclusion
What can assisted performances do for us as an organisation (the carrots)?
- The size of the audience (relate this to your local situation) and consequent opportunities to grow your audiences
- Reputation enhancement
What do assisted performances give to our audiences?
- (Ideally) input from D/deaf and/or blind or partially sighted audience member.
It can be really helpful to see if there are any caption or audio description users, or BSL users, who would be prepared to come in to talk to SMT about their experience of discovering assisted performances. This kind of individual story can help make the case if you have an SMT that needs convincing of the value of the work.
Invite SMT to come to an assisted performance (maybe including a touch tour) and see for themselves what enthusiasm there is amongst audience members.
Embedding inclusion into our understanding of quality
- Our organisational values: where does inclusion fit in?
- Quality artistic production and inclusion
- The responsibilities of each department (specifically)
- Managing the risks
- (Ideally) distribute a diagram breaking down the organisation’s commitment into departmental (or team) commitment and then into individual job role commitment
- Setting up feedback mechanisms
- Establishing milestones
- Establishing lines of accountability
Ongoing agenda items
In order to maintain commitment to assisted performances, keep them on SMT’s agenda. If the Access Coordinator is not part of SMT, invite them to input regularly into SMT meetings. Try and avoid the ‘champion’ on SMT being the one always to report back or lead on discussions on assisted performances as this will simply relocate the sole responsibility or, at best, share it between two people. It is important, to embed the service, that as much of the following as possible is dealt with on a team by team (or department) basis.
The following are the regular agenda items that should be included in SMT meetings and reports.
- Reports on attendance figures and feedback from audience
- Troubleshooting any emerging issues; suggestions for improving communications and/or procedures
- Comments about any performances that have happened since the last review
- News about upcoming shows
Assisted performances should also be kept on the Board’s agenda in exactly the same way.