Freelancers Make Theatre Work is run by a small voluntary group of freelancers. The group is not fixed but fluid and welcomes participants who are willing to give time. Each week, a different member of the team writes the newsletter...

Thrive or Survive

By Ben Arkell 

At last week’s FMTW meeting we were all asked the question “What has made you thrive this week?” I mentioned laying a floor in the new office that my wife (a Props Supervisor) and I had created to enable us to work more efficiently from home with two young children, as and when we are able to actually make theatre again. 


But I struggled with whether to mention my new office as my positive action. Not because it isn’t, but through a guilty sense that this is a selfish thought during the pandemic - raising my own good fortune, as opposed to helping others. I admit that I felt the use of such a personal achievement seemed to go against the ethos of a collective action group. 


I am a theatrical Production Manager, so while I’m not a creative practitioner I am passionate about making the creative process happen and facilitating it in the best way possible. As such, the loss of all my work since March 16th has been difficult in a slightly different way to some of the creative talents at FMTW. It’s the loss of purpose and action on a daily basis that is at times worse than the lack of an end result. 


Generally, rather than thriving, I have only been surviving during the last few months, trying to give a stable and positive front to my young children, and some home schooling (which was a novel experience). I had residual guilt when reading about others and how they were taking the fight to the government and Treasury over the lack of support for our industry, although I had helped compile a list of freelancers and lobbied Government MPs in early April.


As time has gone on it has highlighted how hard it is to keep a positive face going forwards and that we need to hear about all these different actions, such as personal triumphs, freelancers’ victories and general goodwill stories to help keep us mentally on an even keel.


Why did I feel guilty? Was it a lack of effort or the personal nature of my ‘thrive’? What I came to realise through joining FMTW is that all these small achievements help us. Building an office gave purpose to our lives through the summer months. We all need to find those solutions, be it building projects, daily exercise, campaigning or learning a new craft. Guilty is not an option; we must try and find and do anything that makes us feel good about ourselves, and then we can hopefully go forward and be able to assist or help others and also show each other, as well as the wider world, what a creative and vibrant community we are.


FMTW has helped me to see that I can help myself as well as others during this time and discuss ways we can improve our working environment in the future through initiatives such as the Future Labs. Personal well-being is still the most important thing, as everything flows from this, so try and thrive on something/anything this week, no matter what it is.

FMTW Spa Sessions at Shakespeare's Globe

In partnership with Shakespeare’s Globe we’ll be hosting a series of in-person socially distanced Freelancer Spa Sessions at The Globe Theatre in London this Thursday! We have 40 spaces and the ballot for the first 2 sessions closes today.

Our response to the delay of the government's much trumpeted arts bailout.

Great Initiatives

Happy Hour at The Cockpita monthly Theatre Maker Happy Hour on Zoom, as part of The Cockpit's artist development programme. It's free and open to all theatre makers!

Made in Shoreditch Artist Workspace: 200 free desk space slots will be made available to artists in the Medium Committee Room and Small Committee Room every month initially from Monday 28 September 2020 - Wednesday 31 March 2021. Artists will be able to book socially distanced desk space for a day or week at a time, benefiting from a dedicated and safe communal working environment, interaction with other artists, and advice sessions with Town Hall staff.

Not On The West End Virtual Market: The market will be held over the weekend of Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd November, to get everyone in the pre-Christmas spirit - with discounts on offer and live streams to meet some of the theatre pros behind the businesses. 


Seen a great initiative that we should highlight? Let us know! 

Hand drawn rocket on a yellow background

Come and join us in our virtual Green Room for a coffee and a chin-wag.


No agenda, no pressure. Just a chance to meet up with your extended Theatre family in a safe space a mug of the good stuff (and a cheeky slice of cake).

Find out more here.

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