FMTW Meeting Minutes 18th February 2022

Chair: Josie Underwood

Minutes: Josie Underwood (Sorry if they are a bit rubbish!!)

Present: Josie Underwood, Paul Carey Jones, Paule Constable, Nikki Edmonds, Athena Stevens, Freddie Crossley, Emma Jayne Park

Apologies: Bill Bankes-Jones, Vicki Mortimer, Sunita Hinduja, Al Cope, Peter McKintosh

Anti-racism Inc Arts Unlock Commitments

The group who have been working on the Inc Arts Unlock Commitments have now finished the toolkit. The next step is to work out how we implement the commitments, and this feels like it needs the wider group, so we are going to dedicate half an hour each week to develop our anti-racism policy.

Notes:

PC: We met to talk about Sunita’s offer to host a room for people from the global majority, which feels particularly important. EJ had drafted an invitation that had a lot of information about why FMTW are hosting this room, but we felt that the invitation should be more about the offer. However this led us on to talking about the tool kit and the reflections this made us make, and whether we should be highligint the importance of this work and how as a freelancer you can commit to anti-racism work. We felt that reaching out to Inc arts (via Leo, who is on the board, or Sunita) to check that we would be helping them, rather than treading on toes. It also felt like signposting to the tool kit in our ADs letter would be incredibly useful.

PCJ: So much of it is not obviously or immediately obvious to what we do, but directly applicable to buildings so highlighting this to 

PC: The tool kit has been so useful to us as freelancers, how can we maybe think about this as the final workshop that we need.

AS/PC: More simple than how to raise an issue in the workplace, but instead making freelancers are complicit in racist behaviour and encouraging individuals to take responsibility for themselves.

AS: Freelancers are having to call out issues in the rehearsal room in all areas of the theatre industry (both ends of the scales) – it is happening everywhere. We all need to realise that we are part of the problem.

NE: Are we looking for something that is a workshop that helps freelancers, as there are very few freelancers who feel safe and comfortable to speak up. What is the offer/ask?

JU: You don’t know what you don’t know! Is there a workshop in this? Early career artists particularly?

PCJ: There are many orgs/buildings that want to help but they don’t know how to. Can you acknowledge the sympathies and then break it down to small acts that you can do.

EJ: The issues of hidden information are industry-wide, and the industry needs to take responsibility for being a closed book, and our workshop should reflect that and not make freelancers feel like they are in the wrong for not knowing what to ask for.

AS: There is a situation where an artistic dir took it upon himself to write an anti-racism statement which AS was then asked to edit, they had a sustainability statement on their website, but they did not have a safe-guarding commitment. Since have gone to all the other major venues and only one has a safe-guarding for vulnerable adults. This has been a legal requirement since 2014. What is the point of having an anti-racist statement if you have no safe-guarding policy, or procedures.

PC: The gap between policy and action – there is a direct correlation between social justice and climate justice. Its only by knowing that policies are in place and using them that they are useful. Venues are asking that we provide spending structures – being held accountable is important.

EJ: When your employer doesn’t know what you don’t know. 

NE: When freelancers are so transient it is really important that those questions are asked. Whether or not you should take a job – wardrobe chronicles, activists. Until we address the mindset behind asking these questions, and the limitation of belief in what we are allowed to ask. Giving people the tools. We need stories of successful outcomes – of which there are very few.

EJ:  Agree on the content being discussed – I think it is about the language we use.

PC: Ask for Freddie’s experience as an early career artist?

FC: Nothing in particular, not many work offers at the moment to focus this thinking on.

PC: Acknowledgement that this conversation is about artists who have work offers, and can be tough for those without.

Updates and reports

APPG pre-meet

PC: Freddie and Paule need to have a chat about it. Going to go in person. If anyone has any evidence to share going into the meetings – opportunities, lack of people, skills gap/drain.

Action points:

  • Freddie and Paule meet to chat about APPG meeting next week.

Culture in Crisis

JU: Kelsie is going to have a look at the culture in crisis document and see how it could be put into tangible sections for us to break down and go through as a group.

Action points:

  • Put your name in the slack channel for information-sharing if you’d like to help with the Culture in Crisis document

 

Big Freelancer Survey

JU: The survey is *VERY NEARLY* done! We are just working on translations! Sharing networks spreadsheet to be shared and everyone can add anyone they think should be on it!

PC: Do we have an open session about this?

EJ: Shall we launch 1st April as a deadline as end of tax year?

PCJ: This could confuse the timelines as it would be the end of the tax year after the tax year that the survey is asking about.

EJ: Should we be planning strategically for this survey being launched over the next 10 years?

PCJ: The reason we have taken so long on this version of the survey is to try and make it usable in future years.

PC: Open meeting 28- 4 week. Worth seeing if Melissa would be available?

Action points:

  • Sharing networks spreadsheet to be shared and everyone can add anyone they think should be on it!
  • Josie to email Melissa to see if she would be available for Survey open meeting

 

FMTW in Scotland Meeting

JU: We have a meeting 1-2.30 10th March that we will invite Scottish freelancers to, so we can see what they need and if we can help in anyway.

Action points:

  • Share Scottish meeting with scottish freelancers – JU/EJ

 

Chairing/minuting

JU: We need a back up plan for minuting when Al or I are making a point – it’s hard to take notes simultaneously and we dont want things to be missed off the record!

 

Symposium update

FC: Jake is pulling backa little bit on the symposium until April when his work calms down a little. We welcome anyone else that would like to join.

Went to the last partners meeting and made a proposal as to what FMTW might offer; 3 sections, week before the symposium with activity and workshops etc (eg how we can think deeply while being creative), bring those strands into a couple of weeks of how to bring those ideas together, and the third stage being working on action.

Part 1; critical showcase of what freelancer friendly activism can look like. Freelancers who have been activists inthis period (us, data collectors, panto process activists) discussion of pros  and cons.

Part 2; Hopefully in person in various places around the are we outsourcing the freelancer problem and how can we insource the solution.

Part 3; responding to the above about how we can engage with responses to this.

There was excitement in the partners about this proposal, and cross over from other partners eg Migrants in Culture.

Meeting with Trevor McFarland, came asking what he thinks what the symposium is aiming to do. He wanted us to create a body to represent freelancers that is heavily funded and external to the government. Alongside a freelancer charter and commission. He seemed to think that this would be 

There is a New Diorama symposium, in person, and an NPO symposium 

PC: Exciting symposium proposals. Change is incremental. Should we talk to New Diorama and Michelle at ACE.

FC: People Make It Work are going back to see if we can tie those strands together.

JU: Is the New Diorama in person symposium

PC: We should put David on the list of contacts for sharing the Survey.

EJ: What is our political agenda?

FC: devolved nations / EJ

PC: We had a lot of conversations early on about engaging with the democratic process, eg engaging with our local MPs. Lobbying civil servers as opposed to ministers. It disempowers us as a group to have allegiance to partys. Our allegiance is to the freelancers. Ring the alarm bell as soon as anything feels too partisan.

PCJ: UK Labour committing to things we have asked for is not a total loss, and in the likely event that we have a hung parliament then it being included in their manifesto is a good thing. Our goals are not party political goals.

 

State of the Industry / AD/ED Newsletter

AC: We need people to start pulling things together and ideally need someone to write it

PC: Would the list of agenda points for the DCMS meeting be a good place to start. It is very england centric so if EJ could help from a scottish perspective?

EJ: Could we crowd source this info? Email out to those that are close to each issue that we need to cover. More reliable and reduced work load.

Stephen Begg, Steffan, ISM, ABO. Collate a quick ask that can be sent every month. Around 5 subheadings.

Action points:

  • EJ and Paule to arrange a list of contacts to ask each month

 

DCMS meeting

PC: Good meeting, a lot of ‘living with covid day’ – the cabinet asked for consultation from stakeholders. It is going to be a minefield of pressure and the freelancers are going to be the last to be supported. We need to be aware that this is coming our way.

Brexit negotiations; DCMS feel happy with how they are going, and we pointed out that they are 

They have someone in post whose job it is to look after freelancers.

PCJ: On a broader and long-term scale, it does feel like we are in a room that we were before and that freelancer is now a word on the agenda. There is an ear that we now have that didn’t exist, so there is a lot to build on.

PC: Lord parkinson is now our minister is apparently particularly very engaged with the freelance topics, and was all over the DCMS/ACE/HMRC grants and taxation fuck up. One of the things we are constantly coming up against is that however devolved Arts Council funding is in the country, thats not how we work. For us it is a UK-wide conversation. 

PCJ: A note about non-partisan politics, it is important to celebrate and push for the small wins even in this administration.

 

AOB 

Workshop

EJ: Peter lannon are rungina workshop called exploring value/s.

Focused on small scale independent theatre.

PC: Generous and exciting offer!

JU: Yes please!

Action point:

  • Arrange final workshop with EJ – JU

Symposium

PC: Freddie do People Make it work are all over joining up the symposium threads, or shall I wade in? FC: They are doing it.

Chief Exec’s meeting

PC: Chief exec meeting this morning and there is a big thumbs up from them!

ACTION POINTS RECAP

  • Freddie and Paule meet to chat about APPG meeting next week.
  • Put your name in the slack channel for information-sharing if you’d like to help with the Culture in Crisis document
  • Sharing networks spreadsheet to be shared and everyone can add anyone they think should be on it!
  • Josie to email Melissa to see if she would be available for Survey open meeting
  • Share Scottish meeting with Scottish freelancers – JU/EJ/Anyone
  • EJ and Paule to arrange a list of contacts to ask each month for State of the Industry
  • Arrange final workshop with EJ – JU