FMTW Meeting Minutes 11 March 2022

Chair: Peter McKintosh

Minutes: Josie Underwood

Present: Peter McKintosh, Paule Constable, Josie Underwood, Kelsie Acton, Alistar Cope, Paul Carey Jones, Vicki Mortimer, Nikki Edmonds, Matt Humphrey

Apologies: Emma Jayne Park, Bill Bankes-Jones, Freddie Crossley

Updates and reports

Anti-racism Inc Arts Unlock Commitments

Our anti-racism discussion this week will focus on: “Reports of racism to be reviewed by robust, transparent process involving qualified, experienced panel with a minimum of 50% lived experience of racism”

VM: Uncertain where we landed with the ongoing unlock work, in the context of whether it might be better to outsource some work at this stage. Feeling that there might be alternative ways of approaching implementing this 

PC: Meeting Sunita and Lena on thursday next week, to discuss to forward mechanisms of how we work in FMTW to make the space feel actively more welcoming and anti-racist.

PM: Conversation might be more constructively held after the above conversation. We should convey to Sunita that we are 

PC: We are actively engaged but feel held up by the next stage. The board could be useful in putting a reporting process in place. Anti-racism work that Sunita and Lena have discussed that could be modeled by FMTW.

PM: It would be great to turn it into something constructive.

Creative Coalition: theatre talent drain

From Alistair at the Stage: ‘A panel on the theatre talent drain (March 30 at 12 noon). Amanda Parker is chairing this and I have a researcher who has done some work in this area, plus a technical director (tbc) and maybe someone from BECTU. Particularly interested in getting someone who has actually left the sector involved. I don’t know whether you had any good suggestions there?’

PC: Make some direct asks to a few people who might be interested. Tom Piper? Ben Arkell? A couple of people who would be good to ask. Nikki Edmonds? Wig and wardrobe world?

NE: Wardrobe recruiter who has recently tried to recruit for a show and has had not one applicant. 

VM: That sounds great Nikki. Brother Tom might know someone – Matt?

MH: Send me something and I can ask.

MH: There is a huge amount of apathy and reluctance to do anything.

Poll launched – majority enthusiastic agreement.

Action point:

  • Contact the above mentioned people (Creative Coalition: theatre talent drain) to see if they are interested – JU


ABTT show

PC: This is a bit bigger than the thing from Mig. The ABTT, like several active groups, are looking at what Matt is talking about. The ABTT show is on the 22nd and 23rd June. Freelance Lounge, spaces to book. Free of charge, FMTW stand – does not need to be manned at all times – but could be an opportunity to talk to backstage people about community. It is interesting to look at the way the ABTT is constituted. sits between employers and unions, and it has no vested interest. and by doing that it’s developed the standards for health and safety in the UK, and they’ve become legal standards and their methodology for doing that. yes, it’s a lot of old white blokes, but they have actually really achieved something that is now legal precedent in this country. 

Their inclusivity is not great, but is down to lack of understanding and they are committed to working on this.

But the other thing that Robyn pointed out rather brilliantly is that that legislation is the health and safety and welfare at Work Act. And that actually the legal obligation that employers have to ensure that we all work in a safe environment is also an obligation to look after our welfare. 

And it feels as though there could be a really clear link to if you look at the mechanism for how they’ve achieved health and safety legislation and best practice, we could look at defining the same for welfare.

This could create legal precedent, which make it quite interesting. Do we put some energy into the show? (Opportunity to talk post-pandeimic about what FMTW are doing) And do we want to put some energy into welfare defining practice.

VM: Instinct with the ABTT work on welfare being already included in the health and safety standard. If an employee is able to prove that their mental health and well being is not being looked after then they can bring forward a personal injury claim. Consciousness raising that this exists. FMTW focus – how this effects differently freelancers. If we can contribute from this perspective then this would be useful. The work is already being done by some brilliant people, and we could support this.

Impressed by the ABTT’s mechanisms and lack of vested interest. A stand at the event would be good if it doesn’t take too much extra effort , even to highlight Al’s fabulous work on the FMTW website.

NE: I have just done a course on welfare and health and safety, and we spent 2 days on a saw and 20 minutes on bullying. It highlighted how the training is being delivered, and this course was tragic when it comes to mental health and well being training. The only way to get certain standards in work rooms is to constantly push this legislation. Education around knowing that the legislation is there. Feels like a good place for us to be. I am on the ABTT Health and Safety committee – can raise issues in the meetings. Coming back, the chunks of conversation about mental health of the staff is prominent. Recognised industry standards, they have a lot of weight.

PC: One of the issues that people are scared about is how you measure good welfare support. Parallels with the NHS, and how working hours have been reduced because of work being done like this. Survey might be a good place to start.

MH: Provocation/question; whether seeking an answer through the legislative route is going to be effective? Is it worth exploring a private route. In terms of collaborating collected benefits, who supply well being and wellness benefits to freelancers through the employer. Monthly premium paid by the employer which provides: compassionate leave family benefit, accidental death, but also a load of support whether it’s things like a 24/7 Advice Line, one to one counseling, digital GP Prescription Service, etc MSK digital physio as well, And it It’s not expensive. We’re talking five pounds per month, per person. 

Could be offered through unions, would be cheap!

AC: Off topic/on topic – Al does some work for ABTT theatre show. No conflict of interest, but want it on the record.

PC: Gather some volunteer support at the ABTT Theatre show?

NE: Is this the freelance lounge or the APTLE lounge? CiTEA will be there. The volunteer nature of CiTEA is proving an issue, we’re presenting to the ABTT to form the ABTT Costume and Wardrobe Committee which moves all of our health and safety and training specifications for costume and wardrobe under the ABTT umbrella because it’s got funded support administration support which is something that we don’t have the capacity for.

PC: ABTT funded structure. About 10 years ago, we started to think of women in stage entertainment because we just had enough of it stage lighting. And we did a tea party because it’s so full of blokes and at the time they were still there was still women in in in bikini selling lights. So me and Carl Cooper and Sarah rushed and read all wall Doc Martens and pennies and baked cakes and had tea and cakes with proper cutlery and tea pots. and everything in the middle of class. 

And it was great, but I mean, you know, not that I suggest to do that

Poll – agreement with conditions.

PC: Needs to not land on Josie and Al, so this might involve making some phone calls!

NE: Not putting my head into this until the last week of May, but happy to be involved!

Agenda Points:

  • Gather FMTW volunteers to help with a ABTT stand, and discuss what we take to it – JU


New date for APPG on skills

NE: Have responded, makes me want to puke, but happy to go into a room. Could be a little tricky to commit to time-wise. Refuse to see any candidates that apply on Mandy as this is free for employers, but not to employees.

PM: Hearing how we have all helped shape responses.

PC: Put a shout out for the group who might be able to step into the space.

PCJ: When is the new date?

PC: 2pm 20th April

Agenda point:

  • Put a shout out for the group who might be able to step into the APPG space – JU


Telegraph piece

PC: Spoke to Marianker who is writing a piece about the cultural recovery fund. we ended up talking for an hour when I explained that if she were to write that there’ll be lots of people that really cross and I mean, it’s quite a difficult conversation because she was kind of going well why the freelance has been so sidelined. So you know, talking about market forces and commodification and us being raw materials and I don’t think any of that will make it into a Tory press. She did say the FMT W website was one of the most amazing, informative, useful and interesting websites she’d ever been to. She was astounded. He’s like, is there anything you don’t cover? from a freelance perspective. Ask some people to see if anyone would be willing to talk to her. Matt and Tom Humphrey, Andy Whyment, Max Jones.

PCJ: The modern model is the problem, if you are not paying for it, you are the product. The content creators don’t get paid. It is so subconscious that we can’t even see that there is a problem. People leaving the industry, hard for them to talk about it in public, as there is a stigma, sense of failure. But there is rarely a red line where people decide to leave. Keeping on the situation at regular intervals, to retrospectively look at who has left and who is still here.

NE: It comes under the equalities act – employees shouldn’t have to pay to get a job. It blocks access, diversity and is everything opposite to inclusion  – before ALL jobs would be advertised in The Stage that was a minimal fee for an industry paper  – Mandy is £28 per month last time I checked. 


Confirm Ukraine text

AC: Not much feedback on the slack or bat signal. 

PC: One proposed changed. Include ‘at all times of conflict’. Inclusivity, and get away from the idea that 

AC: Quite a lot of text for socials. But could link to the full statement with a little bit of text.

PCJ: Twitter is not the place for this as individual tweets can get taken out of context.

Action points:

  • Share our conflict post – AL


DCMS meeting

PC: DCMS have come back to us and said they would really like to do a rolling six weekly meeting. But there’s another aspect of this that I would love to feed into it that Sue ms who runs the regional theatre young director scheme, which is neither regional nor directors nor young. I mean, it’s all those things and everything which I think is why it’s so brilliant. She basically got in touch with me because she just wanted to say how are you going and have a massive rants about the new funding structures which was hilarious because sidebar for a moment but I think it’s worth talking about regional theatre. Young’s director scheme has always been funded as what’s called a sector support organisation. 

And in this new brave new world of Tory control of our funding body because it is nothing else now what you can apply to be as an IPS, which is an investment portfolio support organisation. So you have to be an organisation that in some ways, guards the values of investments in MPOs. So you have to basically the Arts Council have funding bodies that will police the MPOs and it means that work that sits outside the strictures of what the Arts Council agenda and guidance policies are for MPOs then can’t be funded. So funding inclusivity and inclusion making diversifying the creative leadership of our sector is not something that conforms to Arts Council central policy and therefore they will no longer get funded. So the only thing they can do now is applied to be an NPO.  (From otter!)

RYTD cohort of young freelance practitioners looking to go into positions of leadership within the industry who are all freelance And I was sort of saying to for example, you know, we do these six weekly catch ups or DCMS. we do these kinds of areas where we need to present to you know, carry the sort of freelance experience into political rooms and she said well that’s exactly the kind of experience that her cohorts are looking to engage with. Could we talk to these front foot and interested people who might be interested to step into our space.

Poll – Enthusiastic agreement for Paule to get back to Sue Emmas

Action points:

  • Bat signal DCMS space offer – JU


ACE Conversation

PCJ: Meeting on wednesday with ACE – they had an ask about the big freelancer survey going forward. Good/positive meeting in atmosphere, feels like there were a lot of shared aims. Matt made the very good point that ACE funding is project based and how this effects freelancers and what is being done about this. They said they are aware of this and are having a love of conversations around it, solutions are not going to be as quick as anyone wants 

Their central ask was about their want to do a recurring survey, very similar to the Big Freelancer Survey which would take on broader things such as museums and arts buildings. They asked whether we could/should co-ordinate surveys, share results.

PC: It feels out of touch, as they were offered

PCJ: the impression I get to them is that they’re kind of behind the APR, you know, by about 18 months or whatever. And I think that’s I think that’s true of a lot of a lot of people who, you know, I think that’s one of the big divides between the freelance community and those who’ve been in, They’ve been furloughed, put it like that didn’t mean that suddenly, suddenly, the things that we’ve been bought talking about and warning about for 18 months two years, two years now. 

Suddenly they’re stumbling across the consequences of them the entirely predicted consequences of them

In terms of shared survey I feel that there are lots of reasons why a joint survey doesn’t quite tally. Our survey is UK wide which doesn’t quite fit with their England based survey. Melissa asked whether we would share the raw data with AC, which feels wrong as we have created the survey to be confidential and anonymous. 

Co-ordination of surveys would be very useful.

PC: Correlation between data sets would be good. Sitting in a space that allows us to be autonomous is powerful and important to us. Breaking down barriers is important, devolved nations!!

Having an individuals wing of the ACE is important, and we can and should support this, and focus our efforts here.

JU: We want to support 

PC: Suggested action; write back to the freelancer rep and suggest an ongoing catch up with them would be very useful as we do with DCMS.

Poll – enthusiastic agreement.

Action points:

  • Write back to the ACE freelancer rep and suggest an ongoing catch up with them would be very useful as we do with DCMS – JU

Another open house

JU: just to ask whether we want to do another open house for the survey and whether we want to open it up to individuals who might want to hear about it. And yeah, I had quite a few responses from people who saw our invitation after our open house. had already happened and said, we’d love to come along and do that. So I think that there is appetite for another one if we’re happy to do one. And I’m very aware that the I mean, we’ve talked about extending the deadline. But I’m aware that there’s sort of two weeks between now when the current deadline and where that open house meeting would sit alongside maybe we could do like the 29th of March, that sort of time. which would be you know, that still leaves three days before the survey finishes. so there’s like a last minute like the deadline is coming push, but it also gives us enough time to actually get the word out.

PCJ: The nature of the survey means that there won’t be linear responses through the month that it is open. So I think we will get as we get close in the last few days from the deadline. it is the sort of thing that people will go right back in it. that’s when the real push, I think for putting it out there publicity wise needs to come. And that’s why you know, not that we’re not that we should tell anyone at this point but that, you know, once it comes to the deadline extending it for a few days might be a good idea, but I think we shouldn’t get too too worried about the about the running total.

PC: Question for Al, keep posting Alistair at the Stage for how much it would cost for us to advertise in the Stage.

AC: Two minds about spending on the survey – what is the value of this going out in an ad? We have £1000 budget for digital advertising, which is not a lot in the current landscape. More beneficial to spend that money on a mailshot from The Stage.

Maybe we hold some of the money back for next year. I’ve seen first hand how successful ads can be, and how this has dropped off in the past two years.

PCJ: Is mailshot via the Stage and email or subscribers?

AC: Those who sign up for job notifications.

PC: Try and get Alistair to give us some answers. Encourage the employers to get it to their employees. Discuss an extension to the survey at the meeting?

JU: I will find the otter from the last meeting.

AC: Would opening the meeting to anyone dissuade employers coming along?

Poll – open meeting 29th 5-6.30pm, agreement. But shall we make sure Melissa and Matt can be there? Doodle poll for their availability mon-weds w/c 28th March. Lunch or supper slot.

Action points:

  • AV check Matt and Melissa for BFS Open house w/c 28th March – JU
  • When date is confirmed advertise BFS Open House to all – JU


Bring a friend meeting

PC: Encourage people who have not been able to engage with FMTW for a while to come back into the space. Celebrating what we’ve all learned in this room and sort of not wanting to lose that and also not wanting to lose the sort of diversity and breadth of the voices that feed into the conversation.

PC: Commit first friday of everyone month to open meeting / check in session.

AC: Shall we suggest the first one as a trial.

PC: Trying to frame an invitation to the wider FMTW group that is welcoming. Structure the meeting – going round the room etc.

PCJ: I agree with need for structure. In the times of re-entering the room is walking into something that is mid-way through. 

PM: Keeping a lightness of touch. my concern about keeping it good keeping a lightness of touch about it is to to, to put together an agenda of the things we want to talk about as if it was just a normal Friday. meeting. so what is relevant to that Friday? and in each of those cases, explain what those things are, rather than This is who we are and what we do, because I think what we’ve got to if we’re doing two things if we’re going to have new people in the room, and let’s say that, let’s say the two people who haven’t been for years, for years, but you know I mean months, come and to new people come, that’s, it’s the still the same meeting, and I think we want that meeting to be welcoming, but not effortful.

PC: Good to have a bit of a planning session so that we can 

PM: Is this a question for next thursday with Sunita and Lena?

JU: Is there space for suggestions that have come up previously that we haven’t had capacity for.

PC: Time and space to see how people are doing. Something playful to set the tone, and then also an opportunity for a genuine check in.

JU: Will pop a call out for a meeting to discuss bring a friend meeting schedule.

Action points:

  • Will pop a call out for a meeting to discuss bring a friend meeting schedule – JU
  • Send out specific message to bring a friend / old members meeting – JU



AC: Meeting with Keith; agenda next week. Add a few things to the website for professional/legal bits and bobs. Should have a page that explains each member of the board. Funding – becoming a charity, a conversation worth having in the room.

Action points:

  • Add to next weeks agenda; becoming a charity & board member bios on website – JU



  • Contact the above mentioned people (Creative Coalition: theatre talent drain) to see if they are interested – JU
  • Gather FMTW volunteers to help with a ABTT stand, and discuss what we take to it – JU
  • Put a shout out for the group who might be able to step into the APPG space – JU
  • Share our conflict post – AL
  • Bat signal DCMS space offer – JU
  • Write back to the ACE freelancer rep and suggest an ongoing catch up with them would be very useful as we do with DCMS – JU
  • AV check Matt and Melissa for BFS Open house w/c 28th March – JU
  • When date is confirmed advertise BFS Open House to all – JU
  • Will pop a call out for a meeting to discuss bring a friend meeting schedule – JU
  • Send out specific message to bring a friend / old members meeting – JU
  • Add to next weeks agenda; becoming a charity & board member bios on website – JU