Topic: Carers’ Passes
Getting parents and carers into workshop weekends
We’ve had a Carers’ Pass at Jazz BANG in Sydney forever, and before that at The Little Big Weekend …basically forever. It’s become almost a staple at all Australian events now.
Each time I run a weekend event, I ask for comments and advice from the attending carers.
I use ‘carer’ instead of ‘parent’, because I want this to apply to anyone who’s looking after a dependant person – a baby, a child, an elder, a disabled family member, etc.
The primary goal was to retain dancers who’d gotten on with their lives and had babies after years of dancing. We didn’t want to lose them, their experience, or their $$ :D And a diverse dancing cohort is a healthy dancing cohort.
Hannah Anderson asked in another thread
“Love the carers pass- hadn’t noticed a need for it until I became a carer. Im interested in how you make it work- do the dancers sharing the pass need to dance the same role?”
First off: Diversity matters. And diversity at a management level is so important. People with different lived experiences bring a wider range of skills, knowledge, and priority to your event. Bless. <3 We just tell them to email us when they register. This way we know who's coming as a caring team, and what their particular needs are (they may also need advice about accommodation, contacts for borrowing cots, places for nursing babies, etc). I also find that talking to a real person makes a carer more confident about coming. Then we usually get about 2 or 3 couples max attend. They register for a 'carers' pass' which is the same as one workshop pass (either one day or two days). They then buy tickets to parties individually. We have two streams, and about 50 people in each stream. Part of our branding is that we keep classes small, and offer a 'boutique' experience that's community-minded, and emphasises really good music and really good international teachers. Sort of like an event from the early days (1990s and 2000s), but with really good music, organisational experience, and dancing. :D Our teachers are also prepped with info about these sorts of situations. When the couples talk to us (they may be two parents of the one child, or two mums sharing care of two babbies, or whatever - we've had all sorts and we encourage all combinations), we make sure they realise that only one of them can be in the class at a time (the other is caring for the kids). From here, we let them divide up the day how they like. - Some take alternating classes (the other one walking about with the bab, getting a coffee nearby, or in the class watching*) - Some take half a day each - Some drop in and out as needed (eg if the babby needs breastfeeding, then the nursing parent steps out) When it comes down to the actual day, we let them manage the time as they like. We don't police it. The lead/follow ratio really depends on what role the two carers dance. Most are so keen to dance (and so keen to be out with other humans) they'll do anything. Our workshops and teachers are flexible teachers, so it doesn't end up making a difference who does what. We also find that people swap themselves around in class depending on their feels. eg they may lead a class, then follow a class. We just keep our eyes on things and step in to sort things out if the ratio gets really skewed. The most popular option for single mums has been to take one class in the morning each day, while their child plays with their adult friend at the door. And then they go home for naps. I usually let them have this for free. Shhh. Don't tell anyone. We've also had teachers who are breastfeeding teaching the workshops, and we realised that you can't stick to a tight schedule when a babby needs a feed! So we actually put that in our teachers' contract, and we make it clear to all teachers: we have this many hours, we require you take regular breaks, but you can divide up the hours as you like. eg 15 min warm up session, then 1 hour exercise, then 30 min game, then lunch etc etc. In this situation, two people caring for a child may just take a block of hours between feeds, or the morning, or some other combination dictated by their child's needs. The most adamant feedback we've had is a request for a proper creche: childcare + child-safe space. I'm not sure how to do this, yet. There are insurance issues. And cost issues. Ideally, we'd spread the cost around, increasing pass prices a bit so everyone pays for this. And because we offer deals for lower income earners, we can mitigate the effects of higher ticket prices. *babbies and children are allowed in our class spaces, but they must be supervised at all times by an adult (ie the adult can't be dancing too)