FMTW Meeting Minutes 28th January 2022

Chair: Peter McKintosh

Minutes: Josie Underwood

Present: Peter McKintosh, Josie Underwood, Paul Carey Jones, Alistair Cope, Jake Orr (a hard act to follow), Kelsie Acton, Nikki Edmonds, Paule Constable, Athena Stevens, Vicki Mortimer, Matt Humphrey, Mimi Doulton, Emma Jayne Park

Apologies: Freddie Crossley (is on a Ski slope), Bill Bankes-Jones

Values 3 & 10 read out by Peter, and our anti-racism statement read by Josie

Updates and reports

Big Freelancer Survey – feedback deadline

PC: Places that might use the survey (thinking about DCMS and ACE) we had told them that we would run it past them to see if they would 

Pirate Crew – over 1000 backstage technical freelancers. And have we spoken to Assis?

JU: Sharing with backstage skills for feedback would be very heplful

NE: Hannah Concade; wardrobe, can we run it by them as a trial?

MH: It would be useful to get feedback in regards to sub-sectors in TV and Film.

VM: I can ask a couple of dancers.

JU: Remind them to redo the survey when it is launched!!!

PC: Share among networks too!!

Action points:

  • Share Big Freelancer Survey with TV/Film/Dance and Backstage skills for feedback -ALL

 

Big 12 funding update 

JU: Sent an updated ask to those that have yet to respond, and an agreement to those that have said yes.

JO: The updates were from hello@fmtw – Annilese at ENO said that she is very happy to help FMTW, but without the clarity of the hierarchical structure of the group it is hard for her to ask her board etc, so that it is a more accountable ask.

PC: Valid question from Annilese. Alex beard has said that he has heard from us but others havent, and has offered to help us clarify the ask.

MD: Can we get in this meeting?

VM: Historically we did go to these meetings, so I’m sure we can

PC: I think this was the invite

PM: The website states the active members of FMTW

AC: The individual project pages on the website have the financial supporters.

PC: Is it worth putting on the website ‘FMTW has been supported by…’

AC: Other groups similar to us have logos listed. Do we need to differentiate between projects and core work?

PM/PC: Differentiation would be good! We don’t want it to look like we are core funded by ACE.

JO: The big 12 are meeting next wednesday and we have asked if they are interested in us coming along to talk about our ask

Action points:

  • Update website with supporting bodies – AC
  • Funding meeting Monday – discuss big 12 meeting, our structure to share with ENO (and others) and if funding can sponsor a freelancer?
  • Talk to Alex Beard meeting group about our ask

 

Open Meeting meeting update

EJ: Realised that there has been loads of meetings, and the big question is what is different and what is practical? This week What Next is a conversation session that might inform this. These space often get very broad very quickly and we wondered if capping the sessions at first to find our feet.

Working at four devolved nations 

PC: PCA and FMTW have two different areas of concern (public and workforce) and there was a wonder if there is a broadening that might not be particularly useful.

VM: This broadening feels like it could dilute.

EJ: There feels like there is a waiting to see what happens at What Next? And perhaps it is a grassroots connection that might be useful?

VM: Who can be at the Whats Next meeting?

PC: I can go. Is it worth Bat Signalling?

EJ: Is it handy to encourage someone who hasn’t been in the What Next room for a while? To see what the feeling in the room is to someone unfamiliar with the space.

AC: I can also go.

Action points:

  • Bat Signal Whats Next meeting and see who can go – JU

 

DCMS Poll

JU: Poll to decide on a time for a meeting with the DCMS on the 15th Feb

AC: How many people 

PC: It feels important not to overwhelm with numbers, but also some consistency might work. We should go to them with options and see who is available on the timeslots they come back with?

Action points:

  • Go to DCMS with options for 15th Feb meeting -JU

 

ACE Symposium

JO: EJ and I attended the 2nd meeting of the ACE symposium. A session where we began to think about the content of the symposium. It seems to be that there is an emphasis on each of the groups to actively lead on an element of the event. It may be useful for a friday meeting or a separate meeting to talk about what FMTW may be interested in putting into the symposium. We are waiting to see when the next symposium meeting might fall so we can go back to the group and see what 

Multiple days, some more workshops focused, some more traditional symposium. Open flexible and up in the air in a re really positive way.

EJ mentioned that we are delivering a set of workshops in March, and the symposium could extend the work on these and form part of a legacy 

EJ: Nyasha was really interested in similar themes to the workshops that we are going to be running. Should we maybe link in to these conversations?

PC: Questions, it feels like the skills workshops are about improving skills for freelancers, but with the symposium is the overall aim to give freelancers tools or for systemic change.

EJ: Both, and the reason that the skills workshops came up is that there are different pathways through the symposium. Also, that there is a world where systemic change is possible there needs to be a safety net of knowledge, that might not be there.

VM: It would be great to talk in a friday meeting about what FMTW think the potential of the symposium is. The aim of the symposium is aiming to be talking to cultural freelancers from other sectors – but how is this feeling from our specific specialist angle?

JO: What does success look like in terms of working with 

Recognising freelancers are leaders not underdogs

Wedging freelancers into the room permanently.

Journey for active change

In terms of wider cultural sector – part of the feedback is that we are keen to get all cultural sectors represented in th symposium. It feels currently quite theatre focused, but there is a point to make sure that live performance is not the only cultural sector.

VM: We need to be honest that our specialism is live performance.

PC: Offer/ask symp group; Trevor McFarlane is the cultural commons person sent a catch up yesterday, he didnt know about the symposium and is light touch interested to know what is happening and what direction it might take. “We are trained to believe that we need to know how to solve the problem, but many of these things can just be diagnosis.” 

 From otter: “He is advising shadow DCMS at the moment, and for the first time ever, they’re realizing that the arts communities ask is always for more funding. Actually because the ask is led by the institutions that have essentially never represented us. And of course, ultimately, it all comes to more money, but for a moderate Labour governments that you know they are they are shifting to the center and they’re not going to do anything radical in terms of arts funding there may improve it a little bit, but if they can look to do things that address the arts workforce that are a slightly different way of looking at the problem. So he’s trying to steer them in that direction.” Those in the symposium group might want to catch up with him.

AS: There might be something political that can be actionable that would equally appeal to the conservative base if we can shift art funding away from the ‘big dog’ and back into the communities – a very interesting argument.

 

Agenda points

Direct messaging to orgs/communicating examples of good practice

PM: After SOLT / UK Theatre meeting and Jack Gamble meeting, a thought about where things have got to at this point. Formed from two strands; What are orgs/producers/buildings etc doing for freelancers? Do they do anything, do they actually care?

Good things like Tom posting from RSC, great examples of work that is happening for freelancers. Who else is doing this, and we should be bigging them up.

We are still smacking our heads against the theatre/building/orgs 

Is there a monthly email that goes directly to buildings/orgs etc? They are not going to do it, they need a nudge (nudge theory is little drips of information) – Once a month an AD gets something in their email that is a celebration of what other people are doing in the industry.

VM: It’s nearly two years on feeling as if some of the progress that we made in lockdown it feels as if it has dropped away. Not sure on what form it takes. If we are going into a big 12 room, could this be an opportunity.

PM: Given that we have already made overtures with the big 12 it makes sense to 

PC: Should theatres sponsor a freelancer to be in the room?? So much was done and so much has already been forgotten, but there are still some great work being done by theatres.

We are constantly trying to find the big piece of work that answers the questions

JU: Reminds me of small and mighty acts

AC: Sharing of information is always great. We used to have a highlight of the good stuff in the bottom of the newsletter. It comes back to the responsibility of the work – how can we make this shared responsibility practical?

VM: Could it be something that we do ‘ovation of the week’? Call out for nominations, so that we are not just relying on FMTW volunteers to find the good practice.

PM: Suggestion of monthly feels more manageable, gives us time to piece things together. What we would be saying to theatres/orgs etc is ‘tell us what you have done well’ and we can celebrate it. Hopefully would generate its own publicity. Important to get directly inside the buildings.

EJ: Brilliant idea, with a ‘yes and’. There is something about context being lost, so we could ask orgs to contextualise their good practice.

PCJ: Evolution and revolution – pointing out the small manageable steps 

PC: They can’t sack all of us

AS: Is it as simple as ‘the person paying you as a freelancer isn’t the person you report to’?

PM: SOLT / UK Theatre meeting – if we are ever asked to feedback to the building are we ever allowed to do this honestly. Thoughts about the one-way traffic. There is no consistent and reliable way offreelancers feeding back.

PCJ: One of the things that creates inertia is the fact that they can’t help all of us. But there is a sense that if you help one freelancers you are helping them all.

AC: We come together third week of each month and write it together. Perhaps on the third meeting of each month the second hour is spent working on the state of the industry and the sharing good practice with buildings. Worry that this will be another agenda point and not actually happen.

PM: List of places and people that we want to identify to send to. Direct ask of the ADs and then 

PC: Go to a CEOs meeting? ITC – develop a relationship

AC: If they are publicly available emails then we can email them and ask them if they want to opt out.

VM: Ask the question of CEOs meeting – how best do we best communicate with organisations? These actions are mutually beneficial – a joined ecology!!! This does not just benefit freelancers.

AS: Could orgs give anywhere between 1-3% of their annual turnover to invest in something like this initiative so that they don’t have to go through massive HR training. To give them insight to the problem of freelancing without doing the work/because they care but do not have time.

VM: Also happy to do some of this along side Peter

Action points:

  • Fundraising group – offering that organisations fund a freelancer to be in this room
  • Share AD/ED letters and sense check it among the group -JU

 

AOB 

Yoga

AC: Top notch first yoga session. We are going to talk about changing the session time to perhaps one early morning and one evening. If anyone fancies it do come along!!

JU: Very accessible and nurturing yoga session – lovely!

 

Workshops update

JU: ACE have responded to say that they need all of the funding to be spent by the end of March, and therefore we are proposing to them that we reduce the amount of workshops they are paying for by three – so we will take off the arts council grant writing workshops, and reschedule them for after the March period as they will be delivered pro bono by each art council. This means we need to add another workshop to make up the 5 funded workshops for ACE.

 

ACTION POINTS RECAP

  • Share Big Freelancer Survey with TV/Film/Dance and Backstage skills for feedback – All
  • Update website with supporting bodies – AC
  • Funding meeting Monday – discuss big 12 meeting, our structure to share with ENO (and others) and offering that organisations fund a freelancer to be in the FMTW room
  • Talk to Alex Beard CEO meeting group about our ask
  • Bat Signal Whats Next meeting and see who can go – JU
  • Go to DCMS with options for 15th Feb meeting – JU/PC
  • ACE symposium group to maybe meet with Trevor McFarlane
  • Share AD/ED letters and sense check it among the group -JU to share, everyone to check and tick when done!