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...

Back to The Future Labs

By Jack Hudson

As of this week, we are halfway through the Future Labs series, which was launched last month as a means to open the dialogue between freelancers and organisations in search of ways to support freelancers through the current crisis, get as many as possible back to work and improve the industry as we move beyond this moment. By the end of the series we will have hosted solutions-focussed discussions with over a hundred participants, divided equally between representatives from theatres around the United Kingdom and freelancers from across a spectrum of backgrounds and disciplines all paid to participate.

The reports from the first three of these discussions are now available to read on our website, focussing on topics drawn from the responses to the Big Freelancer Survey. In the first lab, panellists met to discuss solutions for immediate, possible and inclusive activity, including collaborative new forms of performance, utilising freelance skills and the role of digital theatre in making work. In the second lab, panellists explored ways to engage and invest in freelancers while traditional routes are affected, discussing activity happening right now, the pervading perception of us vs them between freelancers and organisations, and how we might share our resources. In the third, panellists discussed how to progress and develop work on diversity and inclusion that was started prior to the pandemic, focussing on how organisations can pave the way to creative roles and positions of artistic leadership whilst not losing sight of those most at risk of leaving the industry right now.

Unsurprisingly, the imbalance of power, which has left freelancers out of the decision-making process, has been the focus of much of the discussion so far (there has yet to be a panel that haven’t at some point landed on the thorny topic of boards) but, despite this, the conversation in all of these sessions has been conducted in a spirit of collaboration, empathy and understanding and it has been truly inspiring to hear so many ideas, provocations and honest requests for help from both sides of the discussion. Even in the search for practical solutions, it is hard to have any of these conversations without reflecting on the nature of theatre in the absence of collective gatherings, and our mutual desperation to share spaces with each other and with audiences. It has been particularly poignant to unpack the role of buildings in this relationship - formerly the focal point of performance, now barriers to it by virtue of restriction.

As in the creative process, we know the best ideas often come during the time between meetings. In this spirit, panellists from across these Labs are being collectively invited to follow up sessions to report back from their discussions, revisit their conversations, and present any concluding ideas, commitments or challenges. To lift the tedium of yet another Zoom, these final thoughts are being recorded during the discussion in graphic notes by illustrator Julie Miranda, the first of which are up now on the website.

We hope to be able to share more content from these sessions going forward.

This week the Future Labs are focusing on the backstage, technical and making roles; opportunities and support for the future workforce; and the role freelancers play in the industry’s response to the climate emergency. We have also opened applications for the third series of panels to search for solutions to  maintaining the mental health and physical wellbeing of freelancers; ensuring that the most  underrepresented freelancers at risk of leaving the industry do not have to; and giving freelancers more of a voice within the power structures of organisations. More information on these can be found on our website here. I hope that as many of you as possible will apply to join one of these discussions - there are no parameters for eligibility beyond a desire to bring ideas to the table. It is only through meeting each other in these spaces and inviting as many voices as possible to the conversation that we will return to a supportive, flourishing and progressive creative sector.

Spa Sessions at The Globe are back!

That's right! We have 80 spaces to give away at our next series of Spa Session at The Globe Theatre in November.

These FREE two hour sessions will be a chance to get back in touch with your body, your breath and refresh your mind with facilitation from the FMTW team.

The next four Freelancer Spa Sessions are taking place in November.

Thursday 5 November 

10am – 12.45pm & 12.30pm – 2.45pm.

Tuesday 10 November

10am – 12.45pm & 12.30pm – 2.45pm.


Find out more and enter the ballot

The applications for the third round of Future Labs are now OPEN! 


Monday 23 November 11am:

What provisions and structural changes can organisations put in place to maintain the mental health and physical wellbeing of freelancers?

Wednesday 25 November 11am:

Freelancers from communities underrepresented in the arts are most at risk of having to leave the industry.  What do organisations need to do to ensure this does not happen?

Friday 27 November 11am:

How can we give freelancers more of a voice within the power structures of organisations?

A follow up session will take place on Thursday 03 December 11.00 – 13.00

Apply here

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.

Find out more here
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