Welcome to Your New Gig, Here Are All the Things

By Jared
Published October 2021

For freelance workers, entering a new workspace can be both thrilling and confusing. Each place has its own quirks and unique working processes and styles. To help acclimate new workers, here is a list of items to consider for employers to offer and for workers to ask for when starting at a new place. Different combinations of this information may be more useful depending on what is required of the worker – this is intended to be an overview primarily targeted for freelance designers and crew heads, but you may find these suggestions helpful for whichever job you take on.

The first chunk of items under the overall section may be helpful for any new worker, while further items are broken down by department. While it may be helpful to have this information gathered in one written location, hiring entities should also consider bringing any of this information to life through a tour/physical walkthrough. This list is by no means exhaustive – if there is something that you feel could be added, please either comment below or email us your suggestion.

Overall Organization

  • Organization chart
  • Including names, titles, faces and pronouns
  • Up to date internal contact sheet
  • Informal things about workplace culture/history
    • Is there an unwritten regular gathering? Let new folks know about it!
    • Schedule for any regular occurrences – what is the rhythm of the place?
      • When does mail go out?
      • When is garbage collected?
        • Recycling/sustainability initiatives 
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion policies and any documented history of process/updates
  • Anti-harassment information and reporting policies
    • Who do you talk to if you experience harassment? If that person is the harasser, who else can you talk to?
    • What steps will be taken once harassment has been reported?
  • Payment
    • When will payment be disbursed?
    • Who do you talk to if there are grievances around pay?

Venue

  • Safety guidelines/information
    • Where is a first aid kit located?
    • How are incident reports filled out and filed?
  • Tips on how to fix the equipment that always break/act up
  • Map/general layout of the physical space
    • Any door access codes/keys needed
    • Where are the bathrooms?
    • Where are extra general supplies (pens, toilet paper, etc) kept?
  • Best tips for getting to work
    • Public transit routes (and discounted passes if available)
    • Parking information
      • Is there a discounted ramp nearby? Where is the secret spot that the meters allow parking for 10 hours?
      • Any information surrounding events in the area that can surge parking prices
      • Tricks/warnings about getting towed, ticketed, parked in
    • Bicycle rack or indoor bike policy
  • Food and hospitality
    • What spots are in the area for food? 
    • Is there a spot that can get you a coffee on a 10 minute break?
    • Is coffee/tea provided? Who makes it?
    • Is there a communal break area? 
    • Does anywhere offer discounts for local theater workers?
    • Are there any spots nearby with punch cards (buy nine drinks, tenth is free)?
    • Where do people gather after work/for lunch?

Process

  • Purchasing materials/reimbursements
    • Is the individual worker responsible for fronting the money and then reimbursed? 
    • Is there a company credit card that can be used?
    • Tax-exempt info
  • Find/update the Safety Data Sheets
  • Overview of what the tech process looks like
    • Who is in the room?
    • How are notes given? How/when are notes accomplished?
    • Overview of when each department is typically in the space
  • Overview of what previews are like (if utilized) 
    • What role does full time staff play in facilitating the preview process?
  • Access information for any technology
    • What is the wi-fi network and password?
    • Is there a shared drive (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc) that everyone has access to?
    • Printer connection information, including any passwords or codes to print color/oversized

Departmental

Scenic

  • Supplies/consumables inventory and where to find
  • Equipment inventory and basic info on where to find
    • Repair/maintenance schedule for machinery
  • CAD drawing of the venue
  • Any existing relationships w/ stores/vendors
  • Safety policies

Costumes

  • Costume stock and fabric/accessories inventory
  • Machines/tools inventory
    • Repair/maintenance schedule for sewing machines and washers/dryers
    • Contact information for whoever does the repairs
  • Any existing relationships with stores/vendors/cleaners
  • Any cleaning information
    • How will laundry be done? How often? By whom?
    • Dry cleaning information
  • Expectations around fittings? 
    • When/how are they built into the rehearsal schedule?

Props

  • Stock inventory and basic info on where to find
  • Any existing relationships with stores/vendors
  • If consumable props are used, who will be replenishing them? 
  • Is there a fridge/freezer/microwave/sink on site?
  • Policy related to pyro, weapons, and flames
    • Is there a lockable cabinet?
  • Is there access to other inventories/materials in the theater (fabric inventory, build time in the scene shop)?

Sound

  • Instrument and accessory inventory and basic info on where to find
  • Ground plan with any house audio plot indicated
  • Any existing relationships with stores/vendors
  • Safety policies around ladders/lifts

Lighting

  • Consumable inventory and basic info on where to find
  • Instrument and accessory inventory and basic info on where to find
  • Any existing relationships with stores/vendors
  • Rep plot or blank CAD file of the venue
  • Circuit plot
  • If gel or lamp burns after opening, who will replace it?
  • Safety policies around ladders/lifts

Projections/Video

  • Instrument and accessory inventory and basic info on where to find
  • Any existing relationships with stores/vendors
  • Rep plot or blank CAD file of the venue
  • Safety policies around ladders/lifts

Stage Management

  • Any knowledge about working with the director
    • Do they like having the next day’s schedule done by the end of the last break?
    • Do they prefer to work from the beginning, or jump around to create a schedule?
  • How does the theater honor days-off/breaks for stage management?
    • What expectations are there surrounding email responses on the day off?
  • Names and contact for Front of House 
    • Who to contact for keys/maintenance in the evening?

As workers begin employment with new organizations, consider asking for any of this information that you are not provided with. For organizations that are currently in the process of bringing workers back, now is a great time to outline clear expectations and information for your workers as they return to your place of employment.


Thanks to the following folks for sharing thoughts that helped shape this article:

Mawrgyn Avalon, Tim Cameron, Lisa Channer, Fae Dougherty, Jeremy Ellarby, Mary Farrell, Kaiya Lyons, Rane Oganowski, Sarah Salisbury, Lisa Smith, Mary Woll

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s