Present: EJ Park (chair), Vicki Mortimer, Paule Constable, Josie, Leigh Toney, Titas Halder, Paul Carey Jones, Alistair Cope, Mimi Doulton, Peter McKintosh, Josie Underwood, Steffan Donnelly (minutes), Emma Cameron, Nikki Edmonds, Steven Hoggett, John McCann, Athena Stevens, Freddie Crossley, Sunita Hinduja, Adele Thomas, Jake Orr, Kelsie Acton.
Apologies: Arran Pallan, Ella Taylor, Beth Steel, Tom Piper.
Hellos along ‘with something important about me’
Welcome Josie, our new administration co-ordinator!
This is a catch-up meeting rather than a full weekly meeting.
Al gave an update about rest, feeling of burn-out among freelancers, and the buzz around the Big Freelancer Report, plus it’s half-term for kids for a couple of weeks… So, things will continue but we will move down a gear. If you need to rest, step away from zoom calls for a couple of weeks, that’s absolutely fine. There are ongoing projects or processess, and if people want to continue that’s also fine. Just be aware that people might be having down time and response times might be slower.
NT Workshops are happening from Monday 12th April.
*AP: Al will ask Beth whether any help is needed from the wider team. Beth feel free to Slack it!
Big Freelance Report
Kelsie proposed Wednesday next week as a deadline for those who have agreed to audio record segments of the Big Freelance Report.
*AP: Deadline of Wednesday 7th April for audio recordings of the Big Freelance Report.
Paule raised that Lyndsey Turner mentioned there is a small amount of unallocated funds related to the Big Freelance Report, this could support the individuals doing the recording.
*AP: Paule, Al, Kelsie to have a conversation about the recording and potential funding for those recording.
Lots of great work has happened on this, thanks everyone for input, thanks Andy for shaping up the latest draft. There will be one important addition relating to migrants, then the document will go up on our website.
Podcast has had a great reception! Adele will send a call-out via email for people to record (voice note, or filmed, or text) memories of their ‘ghost shows’ (shows which were meant to happen but didn’t because of the pandemic).
*AP: Please could everyone share this call-out on their networks (check your inbox for an email from Adele!).
It was mentioned that all memories will be included in some form, possibility of a durational piece.
Vicki updated us on work around anti-racism and has arranged to speak with Hazel on Monday on how we can support this into action. Training dates currently pencilled for mid-April will be confirmed next week.
*AP: Vicki and Hazel to discuss and confirm training dates for everyone on Slack
Sunita raised the idea of FMTW possibly hosting collating all the anti-racist policies of arts organisations from their area (inspired by Stage Source in New England). This could also help freelancers feeling confident to ask about anti racist policy at the point of contract, it would also ensure organisations have updated and relevant policies.
*AP: Sunita to start this sourcing and collating by sending a draft letter to ADs.
Trevor MacFarlane at Culture Commons has written to thank us for all the work, and ask whether we know any ‘names’ who can provide a quote for the PR launch and has asked us to do a shout-out in our mail-out. Agreed to use one of the information blocks at the bottom of our newsletter directing people to find out about it themselves.
Tanya Agarwal, theatre director, has been in touch with Al looking for freelancers to be part of a paid R&D project. Agreed that FMTW will do a shout-out.
Alistair Smith from The Stage has come back to us about their offer of 250 free tickets for their Future of Freelance Conference. We will take some but do not represent all freelancers, so agreed that they will offer some to other groups who are representing freelancers in our industry. If there are any specific contacts (companies, organisations, people, groups) that represent the industry well please let Al know so he can pass them on to The Stage.
*AP: Al to put this in Slack. Everyone to send contacts (over the weekend) by Tuesday 6th April please.
*AP: Al to check access at conference (need clarity on captioning).
Returning To Work
We’re hearing of or experiencing various difficult situations as people return to work, and within this discussion experiences or stories were shared by various individuals.
Vicki spoke about good work happening about setting good conditions for the industry mid and long term, but is there something we can do to help those who are in immediate need, esp those who may not be members of union or membership bodies or networks?
Feeling of needing an emergency button (eg. a series of standard format letters, a toolkit of associations that have agreed to be key people for their discipline, asking membership organisations to open their resource for people who aren’t members for this key period of time).
*AP: Mimi has drafted a letter that might help with this and will share this with Vicki and Paule.
Steven asked whether the problems are largely at pre-contract stage, and whether this moment should be the focus of our support. Leigh suggested different approaches for this so the information is nuanced based on situation (eg. have you had a contract? are you still awaiting a contract?).
Paule highlighted difference between making demands and highlighting points of tension versus explaining, educating, negotiating. Is it important that this is a discussion or is it a time to make demands? Back to Work Better proposal broke it down to hours we work. This conversation is big, so do we want to focus on specific elements?
EJ spoke about the potential of creating a wide strategy collectively but smaller FMTW groups can go and work on certain strands of this (eg. hours). There are also expectations which we need to clarify, so is there a format that we can bring all of this together to set the expectation for the work and the current issues before going ahead with the work.
Athena and Steven agreed with this suggestion of working out a wider strategy then a splinter group approach to accelerate thinking.
Athena spoke about a culture that says if we hold out long enough, not make a fuss, it’ll work out okay…but it doesn’t, it’s a self-fulfilling mess. Athena says it’s about recognising expectations and red flags and saying ‘no’, highlighted the potential in alerting others attention to the problems, calling out certain organisations, and the urgency of this generally.
Peter said that the people most affected by this might be people who cannot or do not usually feel able to speak up about these issues, and echoed Athena’s point about sometimes working in a culture of ‘I’m sure it’ll be ok’ and then of course it’s not. Is there a way that we can make this about the wider freelance community rather than an individual?
*AP: We’re going to carry on this conversation on to Slack and next week’s meeting.
Edinburgh Fringe Chair Response
EJ spoke about the issues around the appointment of the new Ed Fringe chair, including not enough transparency around the appointment and dubious private and professional interests.
*AP: EJ has drafted a letter for everyone to take a look at and comment:
docs.google.com/document/d/1m6OXkpvMszgyuGHv808vpg-IPw7DUYGTzPzGfmhT1cE/edit?usp=sharing. Everyone to send comments next week please.
*AP: EJ will also ask for comments from a couple of people who are familiar with Edinburgh Fest.
Idea is to share our letter publicly for maximum impact – on our website and possibly going to someone like Brian Ferguson (Fringe reporter in Scotsman).
Mimi asked whether it would give it even more clout to ask for other organisations or individuals to sign letter? EJ to speak with Miriam Black to see who would be willing to that, perhaps all the regularly funded organisations would not want to. Paule believes the UK-wide action and activist groups would be very interested in supporting this work.
Sisters Uncut has been doing loads of excellent work around the Policing Bill. This has a direct impact on the arts, for example a load of protest art or public artworks could never have happened if a bill like this existed.
Sisters Uncut have written a letter challenging the bill, and EJ asked whether FMTW should sign this? There is currently no deadline, but they are gathering as much support as possible now.
*AP: EJ to put this into Slack for everyone to give their thoughts.