Posts Tagged ‘Occupational Health’

Event Report: Occupational Health in the Performing Arts Industry – The Original Gig Economy

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Health in the performing arts industry – whose responsibility?

Every year BAPAM helps with hundreds of inquiries about health problems related to working in the performing arts. These include musculoskeletal problems caused by strain and intensive use of parts of the body, vocal health issues which need specialist diagnosis and treatment, psychosocial problems including performance anxiety, stress related to the uncertain nature of the work (82% of the workforce are freelance) and more complex and enduring mental health conditions as well as hearing health problems. Performers, in common with other freelancers, tend to ignore health problems and seek help at a very late stage.  The research shows that, at any one time, 75% of performers will have a health problem.

We were delighted when the Royal Society of Medicine chose to partner with BAPAM on a professional development event held on March 27, 2019 to consider occupational health in the performing arts sector and its relationship to the wider ‘gig economy’. We were lucky to have a stellar line up of speakers from the arts, academic and clinical worlds to provide a range of perspectives on this question.

Kicking off the conference, Jane Dyball, former CEO of the Music Publishers Association outlined the complexity of the industry and the relationship of an artist to industry bodies at different times of their career. In the early stages, the artist may be very dependent on promoters, venues, managers, but that relationship changes when they are successful so that those bodies are dependent on the artist for their own success.

Dr. Colin Thomas, Chief Medical Officer of the BBC, added to the picture as he described the plethora of jobs undertaken by freelancers in broadcasting and the difficult balance between their tax status as self-employed workers and the duty of care issues that organisations owe to both employees and freelancers.

Zeb Soanes, BBC Radio 4 broadcaster and BAPAM Patron, described the moment when he suffered paralysis of one of his vocal cords and his journey back to full health and employment. He spoke with courage of the isolation and anxiety of losing your identity and the difficulties of accessing the right care in this very specialist area.

Professor Aaron Williamon of the Royal College of Music’s Centre for Performance Science, described results from recent research which demonstrated the lack of general fitness, particularly amongst student musicians.

In the afternoon we heard examples of good practice from Peter Garden of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Professor Emma Redding, Head of Dance Science at Trinity Laban. Peter outlined Liverpool Philharmonic’s approach to developing and supporting performance excellence through providing health and wellbeing services to orchestra musicians. He and the Board have seen the impact of this investment on enhanced performance, improved employee satisfaction and engagement, and positive signs of reduced reliance on freelancers to cover sickness absence due to playing-related musculoskeletal injuries. Professor Redding outlined the advances in healthy practice in dance education and how a specialist health insurance scheme is helping to provide access to occupational health services.

Dr Rob Hampton, RCGP representative at Public Health England and a practising GP, described his own caseload and the difficulties for freelancers in accessing support with work-related health problems, the impact on the NHS and the evidence that working itself improves health. Dr John Etherington, NHS lead for rehabilitation, drew on research on performance enhancement in the military and in sport to demonstrate that effective training for the physical and vocation-related psychological demands as well as good rehabilitation after an injury can significantly improve health.

In this conference, the problems were clearly laid out and examples of solutions are available, but whose responsibility is it to drive the improvements? With over £5bn in UK annual revenue coming from the performing arts, it doesn’t seem sensible NOT to look after the health of the workforce, and leaving this role to charities on their own is not a sustainable solution.

Here are some thoughts from the BAPAM team on how the current position might be improved. First of all, to answer the question, who is responsible for improving performing arts health?

  1. Employers and Education Providers. These bodies do have a duty of care to employees and students. Liverpool Philharmonic has demonstrated the economic and artistic case for employers investing in healthcare. Many employers can and do support occupational health for performers. A consistent approach here would improve the health of 18% of the workforce. There are 50,000 students in performing arts education and Professor Williamon’s research, the practice in Dance Education and the work of the Healthy Conservatoires Network demonstrate what can and should be done to develop healthy behaviours in students and ready them for the realities of working life.
  2. The Freelance Performer. The performer is responsible for their own health (however, see point 3 below), including seeking help at an early stage and following the health behaviours which are evidenced to reduce the likelihood of health problems. Freelance performers who have learned these behaviours in education should be equipped for the working environment, but many performers have not had access to performance education. The provision of educational sessions and written and online materials together with peer support networks is crucial for this group. The Musicians’ Union, ISM, Equity, Help Musicians, Music Support as well as BAPAM and many other individual coaches and writers are currently offering support in this area.
  3. The Performance Environment. Research evidence tells us that good self-care is best achieved within organisational structures that support individual wellbeing. While other organisations in the industry may not have a direct responsibility for performers, they do have a responsibility for ensuring that the environment enables the performer to carry out their personal health responsibility. In addition to statutory health and safety duties, a culture and environment that encourages and supports healthy practice will help performers. As a very basic example, hydration is vital for performers – if there is no water available in a venue, it becomes difficult for the performer to practise this behaviour. What if the acoustics are so bad in a venue that the only way performers can hear themselves is turning the amps up excessively? What if there is a culture in your organisation that discriminates against certain groups or individuals, contributing to negative social relationships and mental health problems? What if the people you depend on don’t know where to go for help when they need it?

If this is a structure we can organise around, then what would a Health Manifesto for the Performing Arts look like?

  1. Everyone in the performing arts world needs to understand what healthy practice means, from the educator to the employer, individual performance professionals and any organisation or individual working in the business (managers, promoters, agents, labels etc).
  2. Everyone needs to know where and how to get clinical help when they need it.
  3. All funding options should be explored to develop a system-wide approach to providing for the health needs of performers, combining charitable funding sources with other sources of support including industry-specific insurance schemes, access to work funding etc.

We welcome responses by email at info@bapam.org.uk

Occupational Health in the Performing Arts Industry: The Original Gig Economy

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

 

Wednesday 27th March 
Royal Society of Medicine
London

 

Registration for this event is now open.

Training arts professionals in healthy practice skills is vital, but we believe that healthy individuals also require systematic support from the industry that is built on their work. 

The majority of workers in the performing arts are freelancers and all are likely to, at some point in their career, experience an injury or have other health problems as a result of their work. The particular needs of those in this industry translate to other areas of the national workforce where, with the expansion of the ‘gig-economy’, traditional occupational health provision increasingly may not reach. 

The Occupational Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine have therefore come together to run a one day educational meeting that will be of interest to a wide range of people with an interest in health and work.

Talks and panels feature leading arts industry and occupational health experts, academics and clinicians, and include consideration of the economic case for investing in health, health promotion, injury prevention and rehabilitation for self-employed workers, key and emerging occupational health issues in the arts sector.

Contributors include:

Professor Aaron Williamon, Royal College of Music, Centre for Performance Science

Zeb Soanes, BBC Radio 4 presenter

Jane Dyball, CEO of Music Publishers Association Group, winner of Music Week Women in Music Award for Outstanding Contribution

Professor Emma Redding, Head of Dance Science, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Colin Thomas, Chief Medical Officer, BBC

Colonel John Etherington, Director of Defence Rehabilitation and Consultant in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre

More information and registration

January 2019 Newsletter

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Our January 2019 Performing Arts Medicine Newsletter is archived here

Contents:

New clinics

Healthy practice training for performing arts professionals and students

BAPAM and the Royal Society of Medicine Event: Occupational Health in the Performing Arts Industry: The Original Gig Economy

Trustee recruitment

Clinical Governance Toolkit

Free webinar series from BAPAM and ISM

Resources for healthy pianists

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy on Rehabilitation for Musicians

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have published an informative article on Rehabilitation for Musicians in their Frontline magazine. Sarah Upjohn – a key clinician in our physiotherapy team in London – and BAPAM registered physiotherapist, Patrice Berque, share their expertise, with contributions from BAPAM and the Musicians’ Union.

Read the article here.

August 2015 Newsletter

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Our August 2015 Newsletter focuses on our education and training work.

Did you know our Trainer Network delivers workshops in health, injury prevention and performance enhancement throughout the performing arts community?

Are you a healthcare practitioner or doctor interested in training and professional development with a focus on helping performing arts professionals overcome health problems affecting their ability to work and perform?

Find out more in our current Newsletter:

British Association for Performing Arts Medicine Newsletter August 2015

To receive our Newsletters by email please sign up to our mailing list by entering your email address here and clicking send:

Research into Sleep Disturbances amongst Performing Artists

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Karolin Krell, an osteopath and University College London MSc Student in Performing Arts Medicine, is inviting performing artists to take part in her research study into sleep disturbances in our industry.

Karolin’s research explores the relationship between performance practise and lifestyle issues, particularly sleep and rest habits in the performing arts community.

Information gathered from this research will be used to inform the development of performers’ education and training curriculums. Data could potentially be used to develop advice on rest and recovery times for various performer groups with the aim of helping them to reach their performance potential.

If you wish to take part, please complete the following anonymous survey which collects information regarding your performance, lifestyle and sleep habits. All data requested from you is included on the questionnaire; after completion you have no further obligations to this project. Please read the Participant Information Sheet for further details.

Click here to complete the Sleep Disturbances amongst Performing Artists Survey

The survey link will be closed at the end of May 2015. You can complete and submit the questionnaire at any time before the end of May but please do it as soon as possible.

We’ll share an update about the results of the study in future here and through our Newsletter which you can sign up to by entering your email address here and clicking send:

If you would like to receive medical advice on any of the issues raised in the questionnaire you should contact your GP or call the BAPAM Helpline (020 7404 8444) for further information.

This project has Research Ethics Committee approval from University College London.

Clinics Update, January 2015

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

We’re delighted to welcome three new clinicians to our London team this year.

BAPAM gives free advice to those working or studying in the performing arts to help overcome work-related problems, both physical and psychological. Dr Anne Doherty, Consultant Psychiatrist, loves Opera and is a keen amateur musician. She is looking forward to applying her expertise to the psychological impact of performing and mental health issues affecting performance.

The performing arts can be a physically demanding industry to work in and our physiotherapy assessment service at the London clinic is always very busy. Our new physiotherapist, Sarah Upjohn, has been treating playing related injuries at The Purcell School for Young Musicians since 2008. Her doctoral research at the University of Cambridge involves developing an injury prevention, health promotion and performance wellness programme within the school. She is passionate and knowledgeable about injury prevention in instrumental musicians.

Dr Hara Trouli joins our team of medics, assessing work-related musculoskeletal problems. Hara has a background in orthopaedics, is a graduate of UCL’s Performing Arts Medicine MSc course, and a classically trained pianist. She is the Chair of ISSTIP, The International Society for the Study of Tension in Performance.

Event Report: Performers in their Environment Training Day

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Our November 2013 event brought together actors and musicians with professionals working in performing arts healthcare, education and support and welfare, for a stimulating investigation into the work, lifestyle and health realities of the industry.

Professor of Performance Science, Aaron Williamon, discussed musicians’ hearing and the tricky issue of noise regulations for workers for whom noise is their product.

Philip Turner, Senior Stage Manager of the English National Opera, shared valuable expertise and insights into the considerations of caring for performers, crew, and audience, and in supervising the work environment, both at the ENO in London, and on touring productions. Osteopath, Jennie Morton, presented on workplace hazards, drawing from her work as a performer (dance/theatre/singing).

Former professional oboist turned pioneering Performance Coach, Karen O’Connor, was joined by a singer and a double bassist to discuss novel applications of sport psychology for managing performance anxiety and developing mental toughness.

We also heard from professional performers about the ups and downs of their careers. Jungle Drummer, Chris Polglase, talked us through his career, from leaving music school in frustration at course requirements that he learn endless indie rock parts, to turning a hobby into a sustained professional career playing 180bpm drum & bass beats, alongside turntablists and musicians from a diverse spectrum of styles. Chris talked about the pressures of extensive touring, playing 5am gigs at clubs and festivals, studio sessions, and gradually learning self confidence and how to care for yourself.

Bringing a fascinating day to a close, David Sulkin, Chief Executive of the Musicians Benevolent Fund, interviewed two actors at very different stages of their careers – covering the stresses (physical, emotional and financial) and rewards of the profession.

We’d like to thank all the speakers, performers and attendees.  All agreed that first hand discussion with performing arts professionals proved especially valuable in providing perspective for those who seek to help care for their health and welfare. Thanks also to the Musicians’ Union for so generously providing the venue.

More information about our Training Days can be found here: BAPAM Training Days.

BAPAM Training Day – Performers in their Environment

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The next BAPAM Training Day, Performers in their Environment, takes place on Saturday November 16th 2013, 10:00 – 16:00, at the Musicians’ Union offices in London.

BAPAM Training Days are designed for medics, health care practitioners, and all those concerned with performers’ wellbeing.

Our events provide in-depth explorations of key areas of Performing Arts Medicine and unique insights into aspects of performers’ health and wellbeing. We present performers’ perspectives as well as the expertise of experienced medical practitioners.

The sessions are also a great opportunity to network with colleagues.

Topics to be covered include:

Noise at Work – Aaron Williamon, Professor of Performance Science, Royal College of Music

Performance AnxietyKaren O’Connor, Performance Coach

Highs and Lows of a Musician’s CareerChris Polglase

Avoiding Hazards in the WorkplaceJennie Morton

An Actor’s Life – David Sulkin talks with professional actors

Venue: Musicians’ Union, 60—62 Clapham Road, London, SW9 0JJ

£80 – Full Day
£50 – Students

To book your place or for more information please return this response form by post or email the Office and Clinics Manager, Clare Hicks, via clare@bapam.org.uk

For those of you who are GPs, BAPAM training days should qualify for CPD credits under the RCGP CPD credits scheme (please check this with them directly).

Healthy Performance – Training and Health Care for Successful Acting Careers

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

We’ve contributed an article to Drama UK, the standards and advocacy organisation for drama schools in the UK. You can read the article here: Healthy Performance – Training and Health Care for Successful Acting Careers

Let us know what you think – do you agree ‘occupational health’ should be a core component of actors’ (and all performers’) training?