Chair: Josie Underwood

Present: Paule Constable, Vicki Mortimer, Peter McIntosh, Freddie Crossley, Mimi Doulton, Bill Bankes-Jones, Paul Carey Jones

Apologies: Alastair Cope

  1. Welcome & introductions (9.30-9.40)

FMTW Values & Anti-racism statement

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

  1. Updates, reports & points: (9.40-11.30)
  • Oberto conference expenses – JU/MD

Mimi wrote a pitch for the Oberto Conference, but they don’t pay fees/expenses.  If accepted, Paul most likely to speak, could we cover his expenses?  It’s likely PCJ will also be at the [Hilary Benn] British Trade Association Conference.  PC suggests we include an allocation in funding applications to cover fees and expenses, though for now we feel we should cover fees, including these two appearances of PCJ.  AGREED

  • Pandemic Preparedness Project – JU

We’ve been asked to get involved in this Bristol/?Exeter University-based project, and have already helped to source a lived-experience contributor. They’re  working with UK, Germany, Canada & USA, tracking how we dealt with the last pandemic to see how prepared we are as an industry for the next crisis. Also working with Something to Aim For, Josie attended a meeting with them last week.  Next stage would be looking at the first draft of their report. PCJ has something written to share with them. Also AC asked for quotes for the socials which still needs doing for him. VM – checked if there’s an executive summary – yes – and whether it needs proofing. There’s an audio version already, so presumably not.

  • Big Freelancer Survey Report – JU/MD/PCJ

PM & VM have proofed it, now working on Audio versions. JU is working on a plain text version. All systems go for launch on Monday. MD iterated that JU and AC are doing an amazing job.  Also asked if the plain text version is going beyond FMTW internally.  MD happy to help work on this.  PC suggested sending a press release along with Exec Summary and full report to the press. VM says Summary = stats, analysis & anecdotal material from freelancers, but suggests that added to this should be the FMTW party line on all of this in any press release. The release deadline has already been held, Monday 5 June chosen as we’ll then have it for the ABTT Theatre Show on Weds 7/Thurs 8, so JU suggests a soft launch.  PCJ: some stats are extraordinary, eg 21-30yo gender pay gap, men paid 47% more than women.  Irrespective of gender we are being paid 17% less than the national average. But also much jaw-dropping light shed on the retention crisis. There’s a lot in there, particularly anecdotal, that FMTW as an organisation may not agree with. And indeed a lot of sensational material to disentangle into a press-friendly narrative.  MD – should we prioritise low pay over gender pay gap?  PC – drip release headlines?  PM – the overall feel is that nothing has got better and most things have got worse for freelancers.  PCJ – low pay = about pay, gender pay gap = about power.  VM reiterates the importance of setting out the survey through the launch in a way that emphasises the most important bits.  BBJ questions whether these are international problems and we should maybe, in the long term, be looking at the bigger picture. MD reiterated the international picture, and also questioned the framing of stuff in terms of diversity and inclusion.  Also should we look at pay rates in comparison to other freelancers rather than salaried people? PCJ – is the gender pay gap partly to do with maternity leave for Freelancers?  PCJ also mentioned a staggering stat for the gender pay gap among highest earners. MD iterated the drastic difference between mean and median pay, which reveals the vast majority of freelancers are earning £0-£5,000 net before tax.  JU suggests working group for survey PR. MD asked how we are presenting this to policy makers, politicians etc.  PC suggested Patrick Gracy . Some discussion of when/how to launch, particularly from the PR point of view: we don’t want to waste the story, it’s a bit story for only a handful of outlets, we do need to be prepared, do we need Kate Morley (PC), or Wildkat PR (BBJ).  conversation parked to return to so PC can explain:

  • Charity Status – PC

The board of directors unanimously agreed last week, after a lot of conversation, that FMTW should apply for charitable status.  The good news is that ACE will support this/our organisational development.  This means AC sticks to what he’s doing, a temporary comms person joins us, and JU continues her work but has her contract extended to work with Keith Arrowsmith and the board to apply for charitable status and build a business plan. ON that plan we can commit to six months of work on that model. JU and KA had a lovely coffee morning in Soho to discuss this.  So there’s a big chunk of work to frame our charitable objectives as we have to commit to those.  JU will make a rough draft of these to share with the group.  MD can we lobby? JU yes just not be party political.  PC/VM offering to lead a working group on this and possible applications, 3 & 4 August in Vauxhall [YUK], PCJ has already volunteered to join. Also to trial PCJ as comms worker for FMTW.  BBJ emphasised how reassuring it will be to become a charity in terms of organisational stability, and also offered to make a tentative informal approach to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation whose current guidelines very much emphasise new models of leadership in arts organisations.  JU: it emerged from her conversation with Keith that we need some directors to resign, it would be easier to work with a smaller board for now.  VM pointed out that this had not been ventilated in the last FMTW board meeting.  

  • ABTT Theatre Show – JU

AC is making a video to loop on our stand at the show, plus there’ll be copies of our report.  Various other freelance orgs may send us bits.

  • Big Freelancer Survey Report – JU/MD/PCJ CONTINUED 


Full launch Monday as planned

ONE hard copy at ABTT show but soft launch with press story thoroughly figured out in a   fortnight

Postpone entire launch until PR is sorted?

A fourth suggestion from FC, to soft launch with hard copies of headlines at ABTT conference

VM – do Arts Pro/The Stage show up at ABTT conference?  We need to keep it off socials until the PR angle is sorted. MD – launch w/b 12? BBJ to approach Kate Morley and PM to approach Wildkat to see if either might help us with this.  After more discussion, the group felt we should hold the launch on socials and press until we’re properly ready, and JU talk to AC about a softer presentation of the report on the stand at the ABTT show.

  • UK Theatre Awards request – JU

The feeling of the (rather diminished) meeting was that we should discreetly pass on this.

  1. AOB (11.20-11.30)

PM went to AAPTLE meeting and we ended by discussing mentoring a little.