Freelancers make theatre work

About us

Freelancers Make Theatre Work is a freelancer founded and led community for the 200,000+ self-employed and freelance workers from all areas of theatre, opera, dance and live performance, who make up over 70% of the UK theatre workforce.

FMTW logo on black background

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Our Story

Freelancers Make Theatre Work (FMTW) is a UK-wide grassroots organisation supporting the 200,000+ self-employed and freelance workers who make up 70% of the UK theatre workforce, covering all areas of theatre, opera, dance and live performance. FMTW aims to encourage more transparent and inclusive conversations within the performing arts industry by listening to and articulating theatre freelancers’ needs to theatre managements, production companies, industry bodies and government.

FMTW was founded in 2020 as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented challenges of the pandemic starkly exposed how vulnerable and unheard freelancers are within the UK theatre industry. With time on our hands, and a commitment to trying to make space for the widest range of voices and ideas, an informal group formed to listen to, advocate for and support freelancers working in live performance. We have always held working collectively at our core, and have values that aim to give space and respect to all. Our living values can be seen here

During this time, we have uncovered the lack of freelance support and representation throughout the UK Government and the management of our industry. Three years later, while our work and structure have developed and evolved in many ways, we are still striving for inclusion and solution-focused action.

Our work to date has included:

  • Freelancers Make Theatre Work Studies
    • The Routes to Recovery Paper, 2020
    • Interdependence – Freelancers and Organisations, 2020
    • The Big Freelancer Report, 2021.
    • Our ongoing annual Big Freelancer Survey, creating a unique data set which is used by industry bodies and the UK Government.
  • Commissioned directly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to survey freelancers affected by the Omicron variant and subsequent work lost over the winter of 2021/22. 
  • Held over 50 free-to-access in person and online workshops for freelancers on networking, taxes, mental health and freelancer legal status. 
  • Launched and sustained free, monthly Freelancer Problem Solving sessions.
  • Represented the freelance voice in meetings with SOLT, UK Theatre, and Arts Councils.
  • Provided ongoing six-weekly evidence to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as well as the UK Trade and Business Commission
  • Met with civil servants on the issues facing freelancers working in Europe post-Brexit.
  • Met with with representatives from the Treasury. 
  • Acted as a leading partner in Arts Council England’s commissioned Freelance: Futures symposium.
  • Built ongoing industry relationships, encouraging and educating unions, industry bodies and the wider industry to become more freelance friendly.  
  • Curated a series of solutions-focussed conversations between freelancers and organisations that took place in Autumn 2020 called ‘Future Labs.’
  • Launched a 7-part podcast series.
  • Created and maintained the Freelancers Make Theatre Work website – a central free-to-use resource accessible to all freelancers to share support and information on all aspects of freelance life. 
    Our Values

    1. We want to listen to, advocate for and amplify the voices of freelancers.

    2. We work to reflect the diverse world we live in through a sustained commitment to inclusion, accessibility and representation.

    3. We grow trust by working with honesty and transparency.

    4. We recognise and respect that everyone arrives at this work from a different starting point and with a different set of experiences.

    5. We aim to work in a collaborative, non-hierarchical way and share responsibility for our actions.

    6. We respect devolution and support freelancers working across all four nations of the United Kingdom, recognising the political, legal and cultural differences that arise from the individual contexts of each nation.

    7. We endeavour to be solutions-focussed, addressing systemic issues both current and historic through action.

    8. We foster empathetic and generous environments where everyone is safe to learn, ask for help, change their mind and make mistakes.

    9. We endeavour to free spaces of bullying, coercion and passive aggressive behaviour.

    10. We are proudly independent, volunteer and activist-led and we support each other as capacities change.

    We are an anti-racism organisation

    We are an anti-racist organisation. Everybody in, with or for our industry — people, partnerships or an organisation — needs to do more, MUCH MORE to work on anti-racism. Freelancers Make Theatre Work acknowledges the whiteness in our histories and our spaces, and our complicity in racist structures. We constantly commit to being actively anti-racist in our own organisation and to diversifying our networks. We encourage questions about anti-racism and the questioning of racism, with the acknowledgment that yielding space, recognising fragility, self-reflection and openness are all essential to deconstructing supremacism.

    Our Organisation

    Freelancers Make Theatre Work is a not for profit organisation, registered at (and regulated by) Companies House. It is governed by a voluntary board of directors, who operate in accordance with the company’s constitution (its Articles of Association). The board has responsibility for oversight of Freelancers Make Theatre Work’s activities and funding. The board meets at least four times a year to deal with formal business, and to receive and consider the valued information/feedback from those freelancers who attend the main Friday steering meetings. The board reports to those freelancers and others who are interested in the organisation’s work at least annually.. Governance support is provided by Freelancers Make Theatre Work’s Company Secretary, Keith Arrowsmith of Counterculture Partnership LLP.

    If you have questions, suggestions and ideas please do get in contact with us. Every message is read and everyone is welcome.

    You can read our privacy policy in regards to contacting us here.

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    Freelancers make theatre work is a not-for-profit organisation.

    Our registered office is 7 Windlesham Gardens, Brighton, England, BN1 3AJ