Minutes: Alistair Cope

Attending: Paul Carey Jones, Paule Constable, Josie Underwood, Vicki Mortimer, Jake Orr, Peter McKintosh, Freddie Crossley

Apologies: 

  1. Welcome, introductions and value statements.

FMTW Values & Anti-racism statement 

(2 values to be randomly generated and read out and anti-racism commitment to be read out)

We introduced ourselves and were asked ‘what superpower would you like to have?’

  1. Updates, reports & agenda points
  • What Next? Manchester – JO/PC

JO – Paule and Jake attended the What Next Manchester meeting. It was a specific ‘freelance’ conversation. A freelance performer and member from the Arts Council was there. It was a very positive meeting.

PC – It was quite a small group with a lovely atmosphere and there was a positive atmosphere in the room. We spoke about FMTW and there were a lot of questions but also a lot of appreciation about what FMTW are doing from the room. ‘Vital.’ The least interesting thing was the arts council which was full of the usual BS. We pushed them on the fact they have no strategy and they absolutely didn’t understand the question and basically said they had done a survey and everyone told them they were great. BUT, lots of lovely feedback from Manchester.

PCJ – The Arts Council not understanding the question is ‘the problem in a nutshell.’

VM – Is it time for us to get back into the conversation with them. Time to re-engage and try and get some movement. Who would that be?

PC – We’ve got an offer to talk to Jane Tarr. Maybe now is the time?

JO – They haven’t released the results of the survey yet. I would suggest we hold off until we see the results of that survey to give us some ammunition. Otherwise they might just fob us off and say ‘we have the results of a survey coming out.’

PCJ – They had all the data before Christmas but I don’t think there is a hard date of the results being released. But yes, we should wait until the report is out and then we can use that.

JU – Could we ask Melissa when it is to be released?

PC – Should we make sure our survey doesn’t clash with theirs, timing wise?

PCJ – I will chat to Melissa.

  • DCMS meeting – VM/PC

VM –  A compressed but interesting meeting. We asked about the ACE report from Mary Arch and the Freelance Commissioner. There was no information to be passed on to us. Morag from The Theatre Artist’s Fund also came along and it was great for them to hear from Morag. 

PC – ‘Everything they have done is relevant to the work that FMTW have done and exposed.’ We talked about the Select Committee white paper which was supposed to be about freelancers but it hadn’t used any data from our reports and Jordan said that had been a failing and should have been included.

We fed back about the state of the mental health of the workforce and the benefits of that support both for the buildings and the individuals. There is so little infrastructure left for creating, that we are having to take much more weight as individuals.

FC – Do we know anyone on the Theatre Artists Fund? It might be nice to chat with them.

PC – I know a couple and can check in.

  • Freelance commissioner – PC

It is not industry specific and more or less dilutes anything it might do for the industry. 

PC – A lot of orgs are saying they will back this but I want to go back and say ‘what are you actually backing?’ because we don’t know what it is.

PCJ – The fact that the orgs have said they will support it at least shows they are acknowledging there is a problem. We should keep a close eye on it. It will happen/not happen no matter what we say but we can absolutely be a ‘critical friend’ on this.

VM – If we could write a job description of what the commissioner would be for our sector, that would be very interesting. 

JO -people aren’t aware of what’s happening with venues and their £. Because people aren’t talking about it in simple terms – explaining accounts, reserves etc

PC – We need to stop asking the people who created the problem to fix it. Where are the fresh ideas coming from? I’ve written a response to the

  • BFS update – AC

Working through the data now and we are aiming to have the report out by Mid June. We are 10% up on results from last year and we think it is a more diverse data set. Interesting numbers on union membership.

Further shout out for audio version helpers!

Kate Morley has said she will happily support again with PR this year.

We need a bigger conversation around how we get more support from within the industry. We need the buildings and orgs to support us and realise we are not adversarial. 

PC – It would be good to engage Kate before the next survey.

VM – ‘What is happening to freelancers is happening to you’

VM – It would be great to have a strategic meeting about the final survey so we can get it into the buildings. 

PM –  we have to knock on their doors because they are just so busy fighting fires and having to deal with so much. And that’s not an excuse, just the facts. 

  • Sustainability group update – AC

We had our first FMTW meeting about climate change and sustainability and what an FMTW response and offer should be. We agreed we need to take our time and not rush anything. We can’t fix it all and anything we choose to do, support or highlight must fall within our pillars of listening, supporting and advocating specifically for freelancers. Alistair, Mimi and others are sitting in a variety of external rooms about this and will continue to give feedback to the sustainability group and then bring any decisions to the wider FMTW team.

A list of useful resources is currently being created and a place on the website will be developed for them rather like the ‘Working in Europe’ section. It will be launched with a newsletter.

  • ABTT Theatre Show update – AC

We still need some volunteers to be on the stand with Josie on the 5th/6th June.

  1. Action points

PCJ to ask Melissa if she knows when the Arts Council survey results will be released.

PC – To ask a couple of Theatre Artist Fund participants for feedback.

VM – Contact the orgs that are ‘supporting’ the idea of a Freelance Commissioner and ask them ‘what they think that is.’

PC – To email Jane Tarr from ACE.

JU – To start gathering people around a conversation on the Big Freelancer Survey 2025.

  1. AOB
  • Garden Party.

Freddie and Josie attending hopefully.

  • Stage Future of Theatre.

Al and Josie watched and fed back.

  • Board update

Paule, Vicki, Hazel to meet with Chino to chat tomorrow.

  • FMTW four year anniversary

PMc – Coming up on May 29th. Should we do something about it?