Members of the Estonian Ballet Union are satisfied with the activities of the current Board and the activities of the union, 39 answers were gathered in a satisfaction survey. At the general meeting of the Estonian Ballet Union on 28 September, a new Board will be elected to the Union, as the current 3 years management period of the Board will be completed. The outgoing Board asked the members of the union to fill out the satisfaction questionnaire in order to obtain the assessments of the members, to summarise the work done and to give guidance to the new Board. Online questionnaires in Estonian and English were available to members from 28 August to 22 September and received 27 Estonian-language and 12 English-language replies.
The first question of the survey was why people in the ballet field have even wanted to join the Estonian Ballet Union. The majority of Estonian-speaking respondents noted that they wanted to be in the information field of the Union, read news and receive the discount offers, as well as to keep in touch with colleagues and friends. 63% wanted to be part of the ballet community and found that membership was also an honor. Half of the respondents also considered it important to apply for scholarships and reimbursement of medical expenses also to get acquainted with people from other theatres/schools. The answers in English suggested that the majority of respondents joined for self-development purposes, which are enabled by the scholarships offered by the Union. 55% pointed out the possibility of applying for reimbursement of medical expenses. The question of what benefits you have gained from being a member during the last three years varied according to membership, as half of the Estonian respondents were retired members and all the English respondents were active members. The answers show that the English-speaking respondents have received more self-fulfills, and the Estonians have participated more in community events. The result shows that the expectation of joining the Union has been met for both groups of members.
Members were satisfied with the information channels and information content chosen by the board. The introduction of new media was not considered necessary, and as regards the content of the news, it was pointed out that information was requested about the upcoming premieres, cultural events and event preferences. The English-speaking respondents were more interested in the activities of the Board than Estonian-speaking.
The Estonian-speaking respondents were satisfied with the Ballet Union’s website and noted that they are looking the most for a sectoral news (65%), information about the upcoming events and existing scholarships. Website is also used for downloading the application forms. English-speaking members search the website primarily for forms and information on scholarships.
Half of the respondents considered it easy to fill in the application forms and submit the reports and admitted that there were no problems. Others pointed out that the most difficult is wording of the project description in the applications, because they do not know what it is important to point out (24%), it is also complicated to fill in the financial section table (planned and actual revenues and costs). Concerns are also about filling gaps in the forms and finding the right forms. One respondent expressed concern that members did not know what in-service training was needed for the scholarship and which application form you should use. If you ask the members of the Board, you would definitely get additional information. As the problems of reporting, the Estonian-language answers indicate that it is not certain whether the correct cost documents are submitted, or the concern that it has not been remembered to keep the checks. The contract is often not found, which is why the contract number is not notified. The financial section table creates a number of difficulties. It is also pointed out that it is not always known whether the cost receipts are qualified for the purpose of the scholarship.
The Board's recommendation is to keep all documents between the applicant and the Union, which would solve the problems of the majority. The contract states the sum of the scholarship, the period of time for the use of the scholarship, the contract number, the deadline for the report. Make the computer folder for digital documets and take photos of the paper documents to remember the details. Do not pay a friend's tickets with scholarship money, do not allow a friend to pay the ticket for himself (the ticket leaves the wrong name) and certainly not pay the friend back in cash (there is no cost document for the report).
Communication with the Board was generally appreciated as good in the poll and mostly there are exhaustive answers to the questions received from the Board. In the case of problems, most of the contacts were made to the Chairman and Secretary of the Board.
Since the Board has organised various events for members during the three years of its management, the participants' activity and preferences were studied in the questionnaire. The most of members participated the Christmas party organised by the union in Tallinn or Tartu, the general meeting and the Ballet Union Jubilee in the Winter Garden of theatre Estonia. Most of members confirmed that there has been enough joint events, and a few respondents recommended to have more events. In examining the preferences of members, which kinds of events could be organised more in the future, respondents indicated that they would like to participate more in future joint visits, catering meetings, such as Christmas parties and ecture/conversation about the history of the Estonian ballet or some dancers. 27% of respondents wanted some dance style or technique master class, a health lecture (prevention of traumas, recovery, healthy eating, etc.) and memorial events (e.g. burning candles on the Forest Cemetery and the Ida Urbel Memory event). The English-language active dancers also prefered to attend at the events included food and drinks, but since there were more active members among the respondents, then the dance style or technique masterclasses were favored.
As a proposal from the member, it was recommended to organize a meeting with a therapist who would teach how to cope with stress. The Board has noticed the interest of members in the trainings for the reduction of the stage nerve, relief of anxiety, injury and post-traumatic stress treatment. Hopefully these trainings will take place.
When the Board examined which more areas the Union should be dealing with, it was answered that the value of ballet history and the concerns of freelance dancers. As concerns were raised about the update of CVs on the website, the updated CV or names of the new roles should be sent to the Secretary of the Union who will add them to the website. In fact, members should send their creative activity data to the Board, because the creative register of members of the creative association is also controlled by an official in the Ministry of Culture.
The following idea was sent as an English proposal „Should be important that the union transform itself in a syndicate to protect and make the dancers voice being heard where and when it counts“. The idea is beautiful, but finding this unity in the opinions of members is more complicated.
Finally, one statement received as an open answer: “The theatre is full of criticism. It would be a good thing if the Ballet Union were mutually supportive, the older and younger generations learned from each other, and criticisms and assessments could be put aside for a moment.”
The Board thanks all the respondents, thanks everyone for their honest assessments, but also for their praise and appreciation. Together, the activities of the Estonian Ballet Union are becoming more meaningful and educative. The Board has a great honour to preserve and protect the heritage of Estonian ballet art, to respect our dignified members, to enable self-improvements for our younger members and to keep the ballet community united.
A longer and more detailed summary of the Estonian Ballet Union satisfaction questionnaire can be read in Estonian in the blog heading: http://balletiliit.ee/blogi/eesti-balletiliidu-liikmete-rahulolu-kusimustiku-kokkuvote