Hiring out your Theatre, Health and Safety and Child Protection
Hire of your Theatre Building
If you hire out your venue to others, consider a written hire agreement, signed in advance by both parties, to cover 'house rules' and areas of responsibility etc...for example, if the building is damaged by those hiring then do they have insurance cover? who takes the bar profits? are their youth leaders DBS checked? where in the building is out-of-bounds?
Every theatre building is different of course and so there is no definitive hire agreement. However, the Nantwich Players have drafted one that you could adapt - ask for a copy by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Health and Safety
The Cheshire Theatre Guild are not experts in the fields of Health and Safety or Child Protection and therefore cannot give individual advice, nor be liable for any of the information given below. However, from the committee's collective experience we can provide the following, as a guidance only, which you may find useful....
FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT - If you are the owner or occupier of a theatre building, then you must carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and keep it under regular review. A comprehensive guide to fire risk management in theatres can be downloaded from www.communities.gov.uk/publications/fire/firesafetyrisk8
HEALTH AND SAFETY RISK ASSESSMENT - if you are the owner or occupier of a theatre building, then you must conduct regular, overall H&S risk assessment checks. A general guide to health and safety risk management can be downloaded from www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/manage.htm
You should also conduct a specific risk assessment for each of your productions, whether you own or hire the venue. The above link will assist, but consider such potential hazards as fixings of flats, lights etc; risk of trips, slips, falls and injury from rostra, carpets, furniture, props etc; foodstuffs hygiene; designated backstage crew or actors to assist the public in the event of a fire; first aid box available; accident book available; fire-fighting equipment and escape routes being kept clear of obstructions at all times; safety of scene changes in low light; information/warning notices to the public for any 'tobacco' smoking, smoke machine, strobe lighting, loud noises etc used; fire risk from any fabrics used on stage or use of lighted candles etc.
If you search under 'fire risk assessment' or 'health and safety risk assessment' on the internet, there are several check-lists to use/adapt from other theatres and local authorities.
NOTE - keep a written copy of all risk assessments conducted - just in case of any future insurance claims.
FIRST AID - your risk assessment must include that of first-aid provision. The minimum requirement according to the HSE is that of an 'Appointed Person' - no first aid training is required as they are only responsible for maintaining sufficient and suitably stocked first aid kits on the premises. However, if the cast and crew of a production number 25 or more, then a qualified first-aider would be required to be present.
Smoke and Vapour Effects - information available from the HSE - http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/etis3.pdf
Firearms and weapons - information available from the HSE - note that you may need to notify the local police even when a replica item is used and ensure it is locked away each night during the production-http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/etis20.pdf
Smoking on Stage - NODA have an archived fact sheet on this topic; of course, there are many good quality herbal/E-cigarette substitutes available - http://www.noda.org.uk/archive/SmokingonstageV3_March2010.pdf
The Children's and Young Person's Act 1963 and the Children's Performance Regulations 1968 govern actions to be taken when any child of compulsory school age is involved in theatrical productions - amateur or professional.
All children involved in an amateur theatrical production must be registered with Cheshire East or Cheshire West Council using the Licence Exemption/Body of Persons Application Form. This can be found on their websites - http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/schools/parents/education_welfare_service/children_in_entertainment.aspx
Their concern is the physical safety of the child, any effect their involvement may have on the child's schoolwork etc and the safeguards in place for the inappropriate treatment of the child by other persons involved during the production process. Both Councils will help with any Child Protection query you may have.
For any production involving a child, or for any Youth Theatre group, workshops etc, you should have a Child Protection Policy in place and a designated person assigned to oversee the application of that policy.
Local Authority approved Chaperones/Matrons should be available during rehearsals and performances to oversee the safety and welfare of the child/children.
Separate changing room facilities are required for children and adults, boys and girls and those under/over 16 years-old.
Any adult, male or female, having any dealings with a child/children or any vulnerable adult should be considered to be covered by a Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS) - formerly the Criminal Records Bureau check (CRB). The Safenetwork website has guidelines on DBS - http://www.safenetwork.org.uk/help_and_advice/employing_the_right_people/Pages/Disclosure-Barring-Service-DBS.aspx
The Charity Commission has guidelines on Child Protection and forms to download on their website - http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/detailed-guidance/protecting-your-charity/safeguarding-children