Around six years ago a collective of 70s and 80s road crew had a reunion at St Kilda Bowls Club. Afterwards a spreadsheet of present and missing crew was created and with a lot of input from the 200 crew at the reunion, an eventual 400 names represented all known working crew from the 1970s. Over time they realised that a massive 120 of them were now dead, many from suicide, and the list was growing.
Crew then and still today have very little outside support. They often have low or no superannuation, and claiming for work injuries was and is very difficult. The nature of stage crew is they are self-depreciating, insular, lone wolves, unlikely to complain about anything through official channels. The revelation of the horrible deaths and suicides in crew ranks partially motivated a study by Entertainment Assist, a mental health support organisation generously funded by the Pratt Foundation. They found:
- 25% of performing artists and most roadies have attempted or considered suicide, but none of the roadies surveyed had sought help
- Over a third of performing artists, 25% of industry support workers, and most roadies and crew reported mental health problems
This staggering result reverberated across mass media, and led to Support Act, the charity that assists entertainment people who need financial and other help, recognising that a peak body of crew was needed. Support Act had been dealing with a group of crew responsible for the reunions, who had the best intentions but no formal structure. Enter Crew Care which was initially the hard work of Howard Freeman, Tony Moran, and Sharon Moran.
Crew Care is an incorporated charity with a constitution, a board of industry crew (including CX publisher Julius Grafton) and a formal working agreement with Support Act. All funds it raises go straight in to the Support Act Roadie fund which currently pays out more than it receives.
Here’s how they describe it:
“We are a registered charity, owned by our members and overseen by an elected board of volunteers. Membership is open to everyone in the entertainment industry, with voting rights given to those who have worked in live music and entertainment production for more than 5 years.”
“CrewCare is proud to officially partner with Support Act. The two organisations have embarked on a close and ongoing relationship, ensuring our like minded objectives are consolidated in a united approach to all aspects of crew welfare.”
“CrewCare channels all donations and fundraising income through the Support Act Roadies Fund, knowing first hand the benefits and relief it has provided and will continue delivering to the live production sector.”
Solid things have already happened: A3 stickers promoting the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline are being placed in every pan that services the live production industry Australia wide, as well as full page advertisements, donated by CX Magazine, in an ongoing campaign to promote this vital service.
A ‘CrewCard’ is to be distributed at inductions, with posters being made freely available to venues, production and crewing companies for display in the workplace.
Join or support CrewCare at https://www.crewcare.org.au/ . Donations (tax deductible) can go directly to Support Act but please remember to select ‘Roadies Fund’ under ‘I would like to make a donation to:’.
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