FMTW Meeting Minutes 24th June 2022
Chair: Peter McKintosh
Minutes: Josie Underwood
Present: Pater McKintosh, Paul Carey Jones, Freddie Crossley, Andrew Macklin, Jake Orr, Emma Jayne Parks, Sunita Hinduja, Paule Constable, Vicki Mortimer, Chino Odimba
Apologies: Alistair Cope
Statement 4 & 8 from our values and our anti-racism statement were read out.
Updates and reports
- Updates and Reports (9.40-9.50)
- ABTT Theatre Show report (JU)
Notes from Emma Cameron
– felt it was really positive to be at ABTT in ways I hadn’t considered when we were planning. Although perhaps less freelancers than I had thought would be there, being present and having companies come and talk to us and hear what we are about was really good.
– Surprised by the amount of orgs that seemed to think we would be able to provide them freelancers and when asked why we didn’t become more of an agency I thought it was good to explain why that is not what we want to do.
– Speaking to graduates, or students about coming into the sector was really beneficial. They are all too aware that they are likely to have lots of opportunities for work but are nervous about being exploited. I asked them how they felt we could support them. Perhaps there is some further thinking to be done around this – especially around graduation times.
– Rachel at The Stage told me that with the jobs that they advertise through their website they have seen a real decline in the number of applications.
– We spoke to a lot of people who had been freelance and now had found a permanent job. Quite a few people who had become tutors were also working freelance on the side.
– Opportunities came up – the Stage subscription, H&S courses and I had a really good chat with MIF technical director about how when they open the factory they want to be able to offer free space / kit to middle scale lighting, Sound and Rigging professionals to have the chance to play with larger scale kit without the worry of having to produce anything. I really think this is something lacking in the sector and often to move up to that larger scale can be quite sink or swim.
Guildhall School of Music and Drama – I spoke to Aurelie a tutor there who was interested in us sending over more info so that she can share it with her students. Aurelie.firstname.lastname@example.org
– Spoke to a Light Designer from Hong Kong who had come over and found a job followspotting on Life of Pi. They were really surprised that FMTW was so young and hadn’t existed before.
– Think a physical leaflet would have been useful – or even something for them to photograph. People not so keen to sign up to a newsletter there and then.
– Pencils were a triumph. I ended up explaining to a few people about leaving them in places to represent freelancers and they loved that idea!
- F:F update (EJ)
EJ: Loads to update and thoughts. There is a DIY session next week that we have created and there is a bit of a last minute feeling in the symposium, so we are worried that the session wont reach the people that want to get there – EJ has written some draft tweets/copy etc that it would be great to share with their networks.
PC: WELL DONE TEAM SYMPOSIUM. The theme feels like moving for talking to action.
EJ: Peer support space for freelancers on boards – perhaps this could be on there? Also have encouraged the partners for the symposium to encourage the idea that if you propose an idea you are the host and not the leader.
FC: Looking for people who are ‘doers’ it is an opportune moment to spread this out to our network and find good people for FMTW?
JO: Other symp updates. Tuesday was freelancers and activist panel – led by EJ, 3 activists. Really great session, will ne on the F:F
6th July – freelancers and NPOs, outsourcing the freelance problem. Derby theatre, chichester, cornwall, ONE OTHER pavilion dance to confirm, NT to confirm.
EJ: There has been positive and negative feedback to the symposium, so it is good for FMTW to be aware of this and address this moving forward. Using plain language in all future communication about the event is encouraged!
- EJ please share text, josie will share.
- Newsletter (9.50-10.20)
What would we like to put into newsletters – every 2 weeks? Less formal? This is a conversation about the potential things we can include. A response to what people are actually doing out in the world. Making a plan of the next few newsletters.
- Ideas for newsletters: Paule’s powerpoint
- The Tony’s
- The Cost of living and the doubling of production costs. What could/should the industry do to support freelancers.
- Stratford East and projects that are working.
PC: Two types of newsletters: ‘response’ and ‘at any point’.
JU: Skills shortage feels like a prevalent topic as it effects all sides of the industry
VM: We did try and start a newsletter recommending good practice, intended for an ongoing thing. CO, PC and VM were on the CEO call and there was a collective acknowledgement that they wanted to let freelancers know that action is being taken. PArt of the problem is that from the outside it doesnt look like anything is happening. Asking CEO’s to include good practice. The pandemic has released into full view all the reasons why the sector we work in is OTTER.
What does it take to make this a welcoming industry that anybody wants to work in.
PM: Everybody expects excellence but
Can we write to CEOs about what buildings are doing, and ask for examples.
EJ: Working on a piece about whether a national org close when they don’t have a vision and instead are asking for the answers.
PC: Messaging Al at the time of the Tony’s, great that freelancers are being acknowledged, but almost everyone was white – and this needs to be spoken about.
CO: Useful conversation as part of the CEO meetings, nothing useful to say but utter frustration all the time. Reflecting on the anti-racism narrative in the past 40 years, very similar conversation for freelancers. A huge amount of people who feel disempowered. Conversation with ACE where they said ‘none of us have any power’, so why are we here? In order to make change you have to know where the knowledge lies – then ask those people
Giving wealthy white men a load of money to solve a problem that has never effected them. We have to do some reflecting in that we havent solved the racism problem but it has been recognised that if we really want to solve the problem then there are certain things we need to do.
Where does the knowledge lie.
EJ: A knowledge gap is a skills gap.
PC: Darren Henley saying the problem is with buildings
CO: If you don’t talk their language ‘bottom line’ etc then you are made to feel like you are stupid. If we talk about anything else, human experience then we are undermined.
VM: The stats and the money dont work for us, and they never have worked for us. They misunderstand why the human aspect is important.
EJ: That approach doesnt work. What can we do on a systemic level? The industry works with social capital. There is not a tangible
How do we challenge social capital and promote humanity.
PCJ: The industry views freelancers as a raw material.
EJ: We need to change the spreadsheet.
AM: When we just talk about money or hierarchy then the conversation is only being half dealt with, the conversation is incomplete. Is this a newsletter?
PC: Acknowledging collectively that how we feel is valuable. So many times we walk into spaces and have to hold our feelings elsewhere.
CO: The question is coming back to what FMTW is – create a table for ourselves and then spending lots of time sitting around other tables. I don’t want to be in certain spaces anymore. When we are invited to space we are clear about our agenda. We can talk about money and structure, but we have to add the human conversation to every agenda that we participate in. There are conversations that do not engage with global majority freelancers. The conversation about visa is being presented as if it is new, but it is not a new conversation for black british people.
We need to set our own agenda. Any financial person can talk about the money, but thats not what our industry is about. Bringing back the conversation to humanity.
Who are we speaking on behalf of?
PM: Future labs – actively engaged employers and freelancers. Feels as though it is a conversation, not just a newsletter.
PC: So many thoughts. The content of this conversation is hard.
CO: What feels false, is that everything has been put into the last three years, but all of this stuff has been happening before the pandemic. There is a fundamental lie that sits within this conversation, in order to start to progress we need to acknowledge this. The lie is that this all started three years ago. What does the truth and reconciliation process look like.
In the chat: The truth and reconciliation process seeks to heal relations between opposing sides by uncovering all pertinent facts, distinguishing truth from lies, and allowing for acknowledgement, appropriate public mourning, forgiveness and healing.
‘We’ve got someone focussing on freelancers in this conversation’ doesn’t solve the problem. Is that person the most qualified person, do they understand the human hurt of freelancers?
Is there a space we can create, that is safe for everyone where these conversation happen. Are the building blocks of what the truth and reconciliation process looks like a place to start. ‘We can only have conversations with you if we have deeply truthful conversations’.
ACTION POINTS RECAP
- Josie to share EJ’s symposium docs.