Plain Language version available here.
The current pandemic and the crisis it has created in the arts has threatened to widen a gap in the relationship between organisations and the freelance workforce. Not only has it brought to light a colossal governmental underestimation of the scale and necessity of that workforce, it presents long-term challenges that will likely introduce permanent changes to the industry. Our focus now must be on coming together to find new attitudes towards making work and creative front-footed approaches to supporting the freelance workforce, or we will face another crisis when theatres reopen: a loss of the individuals who provide the essential, wide-ranging skills that make theatre work. It is in venues’ interests, therefore, to join freelancers in equal, open conversations in search of future-facing solutions.
This week we are pleased to share with you the beginning of our major ACE-funded project: Future Labs: Finding Solutions Together. FMTW will host a series of solutions-focussed panel sessions to discuss ways to support freelancers through the current crisis, engage them in the reopening of theatres, and include them in shaping the future of our industry. Each panel will be made up of freelancers and industry leaders, including artistic directors and chief executives, as well as invited experts to find solutions in three areas: immediate support, returning to work and sector change.
Through these conversations we will develop practicable models for immediate and sustainable ways to support and engage freelancers. Hosted remotely, these conversations are an opportunity to share good practice, openly converse and formulate ideas. In the spirit of collaboration, they will be conducted with an emphasis on shared learning and finding solutions, not simply discussing the problems.
The series will be launched with three questions arising from the 8,000+ responses to the Big Freelancer Survey:
Immediate Support: What are solutions for immediate, possible and inclusive activity?
Returning to Work: How can we engage and invest in freelancers while traditional routes are affected?
Sector Change: How do we ensure that the progress on diversity and inclusion continues and doesn’t return to previous states?
Chaired by FMTW, each panel will be formed of up to 12 participants selected around the topic in question and split equally between representatives from arts organisations and the freelance community.
Each participant will be asked to share their own thoughts and possible solutions to the problem before the topic is opened up to conversation by the whole panel. Contributions gathered from the wider freelance community will also be fed into the discussion by the chair. In the following week participants from across the panels will be asked to return and present collective solutions to each of the topics in an event hosted by FMTW.
To make sure that the full range of freelance voices are heard throughout these discussions, we would like to invite you to contribute, either as part of a panel or by submitting ideas, questions, feedback and examples of best practice you have encountered. As well as paying panellists for their participation we hope to platform as many voices as possibly by opening these conversations up to the whole freelance community.
As a group FMTW is committed to representing the entire theatre industry. Across these conversations we want to ensure that participants are inclusive of gender, ethnicity, class, nationality and the LGBTQI+ and d/Deaf + disabled communities. These conversations impact all freelance roles and workers across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. It is essential that those who have not usually been heard in these conversations are included and we therefore invite responses from all individuals.
For more information on the series and how you can contribute, please visit the Future Labs page on our website.
Throughout this project we are open to contributions and feedback from across the community. These initial panels are intended as a pilot for the series and as such we welcome ideas on how we can make the process inclusive, what issues we should be discussing and how best to open the dialogue up to all freelancers.
This is an opportunity for us to find solutions together
Please add your voice and ideas to the project.