FREELANCERS MAKE THEATRE WORK
WEEKLY MEETING MINUTES
09:30-11:30, FRIDAY 17TH JULY
Present: Rachel Bagshaw, Bill Bankes-Jones, Siobhán Barber, Nafeesah Butt, Alistair Cope, Paule Constable, Hazel Holder, Jack Hudson, Matt Humphrey, Susan Kempster, Peter Mckintosh, Prema Mehta, Vicki Mortimer, Arran Pallan, Tom Piper, Gweneth Rand, Sarah Seymour, Beth Steel, Andrew Whyment
Guest Speaker: David Loumgair – Common
Based in the North East, Common is a sector support organisation and cultural campaigning body founded in 2018 in response to systemic socio-economic barriers to building sustainable careers in the arts. Common aims to put class on the agenda in an intersectional capacity – recognising that socio-economic inequality increases other barriers and differs across the country.
Common has a number of focusses and initiatives including:
- Common Ground focus groups between individuals and senior staff at organisations to discuss barriers and inequalities within the industry and propose solutions.
- Career development programmes such as the Common Playwriting Programme, which provides first-time writers with a part-time salary and attachment to an NPO.
- Co-commissioning work which offers employment issue to individuals across roles, ranging from large-scale commercial work to smaller commissions.
- Lobbying government and arts bodies to keep class on the agenda. Currently linking up with groups such as Class and Corona to coordinate campaigns during pandemic.
They are currently working to form an alliance between creative industries in other cultural sectors in conjunction with the social mobility commission and have launched Common Community – a social and professional network for individuals from intersectional working class backgrounds, via which organisations will be able form working relationships.
David has offered an invitation for FMTW to collaborate with Common and we will continue to coordinate on activity.
DCMS All Party Parliamentary Group
The report from the APPG suggests that MPs are aware of the problems but have not proposed solutions. We have been advised by a lobbyist to write to MPs on the committee to thank them and ask for support for freelancers, identifying ones local to their constituencies (potentially sourced via Twitter). This can also be used as a template for a general letter to MPs encouraging them to read report, providing more information on our industry and what’s being done, and requesting support. We could also look for other APPGs with cross-over areas and try to link focus, as well as drawing attention to elements of the report into other DCMS sectors which would benefit the arts, such as better representation of the boards of football clubs to tackle racism.
Recent press coverage from SOLT suggests that not enough is being done to support freelancers and we need to keep pushing for tangible messaging and action. We will look into inviting someone from the Cultural Recovery and Renewal taskforce to join our weekly meeting.
The Campaign for the Arts have published a clear 10 Point response to the report – https://www.campaignforthearts.org/next
We discussed practical ways to make material accessible, including:
- audio described introductions
- signed names
- Use funding to ensure initiatives are accessible:
- Interpreters and live captioning (Zoom, video content)
- Screen readable content online (e.g. website, social media)
- Creatively embedding accessibility into artistic work
- Structuring written content with key elements simply presented
Disability has been mentioned in responses to the pandemic by the government and arts bodies but the narrative often excludes individuals from being professionals or audience members. It is still centred around people’s vulnerability, with confusing messaging.
There are still huge physical and social barriers to disabled individuals working in arts industries and buildings, including issues with working remotely such as Slack’s inaccessibility for screen readers and the speed at which things progress, without time being taken to ensure resources are accessible.
We should include resources for accessibility in any applications we make for funding from the Arts Council and could approach furloughed arts access officers for professional advice.
Arts Council Funding and long term aims
We are working on a funding application to the Arts Council and meeting with them next week, in part to find what they want from us. To this end, we need to discuss our long-term aims, including an end goal. We will begin work on this next week.
Updates on projects from working groups:
Website and social media
- The new website has launched and appears to have been a successful transition
- Continuing to ensure online content is accessible and reducing text heavy resources
- Putting a document together to report on weekly stats to monitor reach and impact
- Some people fell off the mailing list because of GDPR and will need to re-subscribe
- We are inviting people to resubmit portraits with explicit permission for future use
- Board members receiving confirmations this week – two more to be added
- Bank account open next week
- Checking to see if there is a company report due imminently
- We have begun replying to more general emails
- We will begin replying to offers of help alongside launch of social media campaign
- News round-ups from SOLT to be shared in Slack
Advocacy and campaigns
- The proposed social media campaign has been simplified to maximise engagement
- It will be primarily photo-based but people can submit more creative responses
- It will be accompanied by a video explanation and the hashtag #FREElanceTHINKING
- Inviting people to say what improvements they want to the industry as it rebuilds
- Submitted ideas will contribute to a manifesto (important that there is an aim)
- We are linking up with the Freelance Taskforce on the campaign
- We need to set a date for the manifesto – to be discussed this week
- Members of this group should submit their own images/videos by Monday
- We need to determine what data we are collecting and how
- This week’s letter will cover the campaign
- As well as a paragraph on our experience of the trial performance at the Palladium
- Next week’s letter this be discussed during the week
- We are creating a page on the website with clear areas to share resources etc
- We must identify specific things that should be included in our funding application
- We will be able to launch this as an ongoing resource alongside the social campaign
- There was a suggestion for pitching coverage of positive, radical solutions, potentially with an invitation for contributions
- There is potentially an opportunity to use anecdotal survey answers here
- We will put together a group to action this
- The need for a discussion about effective collective, remote working was suggested
- Proposal to end meetings with a decision or postponement of activity if required
- We will make meeting times clearer and attach projects to regular meetings
Possibly suggestions for future focusses after the well-being toolkit is live:
- Funding: options and guides for applying
- Benefits: guide to applying, timescale etc, possibly alongside tax advice
(Useful resource: https://www.turn2us.org.uk)
Discussion: Festival credits
The lack of crediting for creatives by organisations and festivals was discussed. A letter will be drafted to draw attention to uncredited work for an upcoming event – to be published next week alongside the #CreditTheCreatives campaign.
Recap action points and deadlines
- Coordinate with Common on the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review
- Write to MPs on the DCMS APPG, identifying local freelancers
- Write to MPs not on the APPG to raise awareness
- Invite a member of the Cultural Recovery and Renewal taskforce to speak to us
- Assign ourselves audio described introductions and signed names
- Discuss aims for Arts Council funding, including accessibility resources
- Seek out furloughed accessibility officers for professional advice
- Continue to send activity summaries for the website
- Check reporting requirements for NPO with company secretary
- Set a date for the drafting and launching of the manifesto
- Submit our own photos or videos for the campaign
- Contact volunteers by email to enlist help with the campaign
- Meet to discuss press pitch
- Draft and send letter raising awareness of uncredited artists
Next general meeting
Friday 31st July, 9.30am
Chair: Ola Ince
Approaching actors and company managers as well as previously suggested individuals for organising team.
The campaign will require a separate discussion around GDPR.
For previous FMTW minutes, head to the ‘Our News‘ section of the website.