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Why try to do it all yourself when you can get help? / 2 April 2014

Photo of performer Liz Porter wearing sight aids and holding a cane

Liz Porter. Photo © Lynn Weddle

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Delivering a full-on collaborative R&D project in which you are the main producer, writer, performer and administrator, is always going to be stressful.

You could say that this is a character-building experience which will look good on your CV, and this is true. But actually it’s bloody ridiculous because what you want to be doing is immersing yourself in the creative process and letting someone else deal with all the partnership and artist agreements, finance stuff, booking access support, etc. etc.

Finance has been a nightmare. It took three visits to the bank and two telephone calls before they sent me a ‘card reader’, and I hadn’t made payments this way before. Is this method accessible? Absolutely not!!!  

it took me 2 hours to pay eight people: the card reader would time out, while I squinted to read the weeny figures, double-checked that I’d punched in the correct digits, and panicked that I’d inadvertently pressed the wrong number and some unexpected individual would get lucky and one of my team lose out…

Thankfully it all went through, but this wasn’t a productive use of time.

‘Where’s your Access to Work?’ I hear you cry. I’ve never been that organised and I don’t have any ATW arrangements at the moment. This really stems from the notion that I can do it all myself (which of course I can’t because I’m unable to see half the things I’m doing). I’m not great at asking for help when I need it. But the reality is that I do need help, especially as my sight has deteriorated further in the last couple of years.

When I put the ACE G4A bid together for Learning to See, I’d heard that you could apply for money for your own access support needs. ‘Great!’  I thought, and I put in a smallish figure to support me through the rehearsal process and for a bit of the admin.  I had to use some of the money to bring in an audio-describer to help with descriptions of the visual material that was being developed.  Whilst I had it, it was fab! I clearly didn’t ask for enough days.  

I advertised the role (for 6 days work) and found a brilliant woman who has an excellent understanding of visual impairment and is an artist herself.  Because she got the theatrical concept and is a photographer too, she gelled with the team and was able to take appropriate initiative.  I really hope I can bring her on board again.

So now I’m faced with the task of approaching Access to Work again. One of the lessons learnt from doing this project will be to find either some project manager support or some input from an independent producer as I build the next bid to take the show on tour. Goodness knows how much longer we’ll have Access to Work, though, what with all these cuts.

I’d better act quickly.

Keywords: access,access issues,access to work,visual impairment