Dear Artistic Directors, Executive Directors, Producers and Theatre Managements,
We were shocked to see the announcement last week that out of the promised £1.57b bailout only £500m will be funding our theatre sector with seemingly little requirement for project work or support for freelancers.
With the likelihood that social distancing will not be reviewed until November it is clear that we can no longer assume that any income will be generated in the short term via conventional ideas of activity. There are likely to be no shows; therefore no income for any freelance theatre workers.
Is the only option now facing many theatres, a process of mothballing, redundancies of permanent staff and the end of all creative activities? If so, where does that leave the freelance workforce?
These are increasingly stressful times and the situation is stark for us all.
We are extremely aware of the difficulties you face and wish to restate our commitment to working with you. Together, we need to find a range of solutions that will provide work for the freelance community now, next week and next year. Without this dialogue there will be no freelancers left to create the work your organisations and buildings were funded to support and share.
We need to act quickly and urge you to work with us to:
Explore imaginative ways to work with your freelance community to open up your buildings, utilise your spaces, develop new digital content or take work into the communities you serve. At all times, working to put freelancers at the heart of your recovery model to create employment.
Seek new ways to collaborate with freelancers to release the full potential of any Arts Council funding and create new models for what projects could be and how activity can be defined. For example, only half of the current £59m Project Fund is available to individuals, therefore it is only through an organisation committing to collaborations with freelancers that this money can be accessed productively.
Use your experience of working with philanthropic trusts to champion the needs of the freelance community to open up opportunities for training and career development.
Continue to engage with your wider freelance community. Communication is incredibly helpful and sharing can be healing. Please keep talking to us.
We invite you to collaborate with the freelance community to develop solutions that ensure both the survival of the sector and its transformation to a fairer, more transparent, diverse and inclusive workplace. We need to establish immediate, effective and pragmatic solutions that help get freelancers working as soon as possible. These are important conversations and considerations, and must be genuinely representative.
We will be setting up a series of Town Hall meetings entitled MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER, to debate the problem, discuss ideas, explore solutions and share examples of the excellent activities being undertaken by some already, and we need your help.
Contact us to co-define how these Town Halls will work. The structure must be created by organisations and freelancers in partnership.
More than ever we need to move forwards together.
Freelancers Make Theatre Work