Chair: Josie Underwood

Minutes: Freddie Crossley

Present: Bill Bankes-Jones, Paule Constable, Paul Carey-Jones, Vicki Mortimer, Josie Underwood, Alistair Cope, Freddie Crossley

Apologies: 

Updates and reports

Agenda points 

English National Opera (PC)

  • PC: Received news from Anna Lise at ENO with a request to support ENO who appreciated the noise from musicians and singers but asked if there is a possibility of raising a response from production
    • There is no one place that all conversations can coalesce – so perhaps we should start here.
    • It doesn’t affect every freelancer specifically, but it is important to recognise the wider impact
    • Can we ask Aaptle to support the letter even if we don’t
    • Raising the wider problem and impact of this (the loss of last remaining wig department, ethos and opportunity offered by ENO)
  • JU: We would be assisting the articulation of a symptom.  Given there’s no voice on the production
  • PC-J: Does ENO have a plan? Is this part of a bigger picture? 
    • PC: We don’t know yet. We can’t solve the problem for them – we are diagnostic.
  • PC-J: We can’t reverse this decision – but they’re frontier. If the government can shut down a major organisation without a response, it’s the beginning of the end for subsidised arts organisations.
  • BB-J: Money has actually increased: we’ve got to be careful
    • Freelance Voices: ENO’s never done anything for us and not sure what they’re target is
  • PC: Actually pound for pound with inflation we’ve got a cut – the arts has not got a per capita lift. It’s less benevolent than it seems (in fact, not enough)
  • AC: Lyric Hammersmith Jigsaw image – who is involved – these are the people it takes to run it. Is there something we/they can do to illustrate the effect on the people?
  • FC: Framing this as a way that supports everyone (as opposed to a specific organisation)
  • JU: Dismantling of safety (loss of skill and knowledge and endangering of workforce), of arts infrastructure, of centres for art – these are  linked
  • BB-J: How do we measure the success of ENO?
  • PC-J: If we try to measure this by numbers, we undermine ourselves (If we try to value buildings on their financial output they’d all be cafes)  
    • We must ensure we are being clear on what basis we’re supporting it – this is a cunning political move (re whiney Londoners) – we’re threading the needle
  • PC: Acknowledging in letter:
    • Perhaps some aspects of this decision have been justified, and perhaps they have understood it to be coming for some time
    • But that these decisions have much larger repercussions
    • Somewhere like the ENO is valuable for particular reasons 
  • VM: Highlights symbolic value of public funding in relation to whether culture has any value at all
    • Leveling Up shows culture does have value to the government but these examples show they don’t know how it works
    • Contradictory messages – there is a recognition of value in the cuts themselves
  • PC: Highlights the importance of doing something. Agreement to create (VC/PC) and read document (collective)

Rates of Pay – new data or lobbying current recs? (JU/FC)

  • FC: Proposing creating a set of freelance employment rate guidelines: FMTW Standard Rate based on profession, level of experience and responsibility within a project (not a minimum).
  • Problems with current Equity/ITC guides:
    •  too low
    • behind a paywall meaning employers can’t necessarily access them (is that the idea – unions designed to protect members not provide guidelines for employers)
    • despite being called ‘minimum’ they are treated as if they are standard rates – perhaps because there is no alternative guide 
    • it doesn’t offer comprehensive guidance on all roles or professions
    • doesn’t reflect experience or responsibility within projects. I’m not sure equity would be prepared to change the whole structure of what they are doing
    • CEOs meeting returned: “nobody knows how much they’re supposed to pay for a xxxxx with xx years experience and clear guidance would change that.”
  • Mimi noted that iOpera has done work towards a fair pay survey but didn’t have the right people to analyse the data. 
  • Bill B-J says Directors UK have done something similar. PC notes ALPD work.
  • Do we: 
    • Seek funding and/or partnership to conduct research to inform this and a way of updating this (perhaps automatically)
    • Put something together ourselves as volunteers – perhaps opting for a blanket guideline (https://www.artistsunion.scot/rates_of_pay)
    • Lobby for a more comprehensive and updated version from Equity
    • Incorporate this into Big Freelancer Survey
  • JC: will collate information around rates of pay 
  • PCJ: It could be an element of the Big Freelancer Survey but important to be aware that it is a big bit of work
    • Frame it as “This is that start of the work”
  • Dr Heidi Ashton (Warwick University) available for projects and research – large undertaking project
  • Approving applications and ACE don’t have much idea of what people should be paid either
  • VM: producers will offer more money for someone with more experience so maybe that aspect of it is redundant.
    • Scene Change did research around how much people are getting paid and how that work was. Approached from both sides: Analysis of time (if I did this much time my fee would be this much), Analysis of fees (If I was offered this fee I would give this much time)
    • Max Jones has gone to Equity with this data
    • It’s about really knowing what the job is when looking at the rates (that’s where it gets easy for producers to pretend they don’t know) – it’s about contractual expectations
  • PCJ: Can we play a signposting role (where one might go to get information if they don’t know) – Something like Glassdoor where people anonymously post their salaries – work into survey?

Action points:

  • PC/VM Writing a support letter for ENO/ around the effects on technical staff
    • FMTW to decide whether we will support it
    • PCJ writing a newsletter?
  • Josie collating info around rates of pay and then we’re to decide whether this is something we’d like to talk to Dr Heidi Ashton about.

Updates & reports

  • Unions (JU)
    • JU: Update on meeting – how we can engage people with unions more and how we can engage with unions
      • Talking to unions about how we can engage with them
      •  without specifying particular unions create resource pack around what unions do and how freelancers can be empowered by them
      • How freelancers have a better sense about how a union might be useful (in a context of financial anxiety)
      • Member led: everyone joining a union needs to understand that it can only enact what you put in
  • Classroom (JU)
    • JU Contacted by RTYDS on their project Classroom – a project about supporting working class freelancers (e.g. Surviving on a shoestring: gives financial advice)
      • Focussed on class and freelancing. Keen to connect and talk with us.
    • JU to share data with the, on Big Freelancer Report – and ask about what data we can gather for them in 2023 – how to focus questions to get more out of it in this area.
      • How do we focus on the cost of living crisis?
      • How is it affecting entry into and sustainability of working in the industry?

Action points:

  • JU to share data on Big Freelancer Report – and ask about what data we can gather for them in 2023
  •  creating resource pack around what unions do and how freelancers can be empowered by them? 

AOB

  • DCMS Brexit meeting Friday 2nd December 2022, 3pm – regarding DCMS response and how we can dig into them
    • Recognising inertia (regarding regurgitated antiquated party line statement) – Rebutt claims that the problem is fixed.
    • Viva la Visa – Hannah’s availability – do we need Hannah to be available for this meeting? 
    • Agreed to attend tomorrow and propose a secondary meeting with Viva la Visa (for specific examples)
  • BBJ: Lizzy Crump (What Next?) still available to talk to us about how we operate.
    • JU: Proposing push for new volunteers 2023 (increasing capacity) – proposed volunteers sheet – being specific about skills and ongoing work in invitation
    • Is there anybody we want to bring in to the conversation with DCMS in January – consult colleagues about this?
  • Fridays Meetings: suggesting alternating times for the first week of each month (next meeting between 5th-10th January 2023
    • Pre meet to be arranged for DCMS team
  • Al to monitor support email over FMTW (quiet but supportive) Christmas period (21st-4th?)

ACTION POINTS RECAP

  • PC/VM Writing a support letter for ENO/ around the effects on technical staff – FMTW to decide whether we will support it
    • PCJ writing a newsletter?
  • JU collating info around rates of pay – FMTW to decide whether this is something we’d like to take to Dr Heidi Ashton, Warwick University
  • JU to share data on Big Freelancer Report with RTYDS Classroom – and ask about what data we can gather for them in 2023
  •  creating resource pack around what unions do and how freelancers can be empowered by them? 
  • Reflect on potential new volunteers call out and who we might talk to in relation to DCMS meeting in January
  • AC and JU to meet with Lizzie Crump
  • Pre-meet to be arranged for DCMS Meeting in January 2023
  • Christmas break to be agreed (proposed 21st December 2022-4th January 2023)
  • Next FMTW general meeting to be arranged (suggested 5th-10th January 2023)

Upcoming Meetings

  • Friday 2nd December 2022, 3pm (30 mins – ) Lobbying team: DCMS Brexit meeting – Propose a secondary meeting with Viva la Visa (for specific examples) – pre meet 2.30
  • ~12th January 2023 (1 hr) Lobbying team: DCMS regular meeting – with set agenda around what we want to bring to them