FREELANCERS MAKE THEATRE WORK
WEEKLY MEETING MINUTES
09:30-11:30, FRIDAY 31st JULY
Present: Rachel Bagshaw, Bill Bankes-Jones, Siobhán Barber, Paule Constable, Alistair Cope, Debbie Hannan, Sunita Hinduja, Jack Hudson, Matt Humphrey, Ola Ince, Simon Manyonda, Peter McKintosh, Prema Mehta, Connor Mitchell, Chinonyerem Odimbo, Tom Piper, Gweneth Rand, Beth Steel, Ella Taylor, Adele Thomas, Andrew Whyment
Guest speaker: Ash Woodard from Video Code
The Video Code aims to be a new standard of conduct for video departments in the live entertainment industry. It will offer a framework to interrupt systemic racism, hold ourselves and others accountable and create a safe environment for those from diverse backgrounds. The Code will support those entering the industry and will evolve over time through a democratic and independently evaluated process with the aim of helping to dismantle racism, bias, discrimination and systemic racism within the industry.
The group is still in its early days of development but has established the following aims:
- THE CODE – a standard by which practices and signatories can be evaluated
- SELF-EDUCATION – life-long learning and allyship around the industry’s lack of diversity
- ACCOUNTABILITY – call out bias and discrimination in the industry
- OUTREACH – increase access to the industry through direct action
- ADVOCATE – advocating for similar change within other disciplines
- EVOLUTION – evolve, listen and develop its aims
They are currently building their manifesto, which will be agreed democratically and independently validated. In acknowledgement of the fact that freelancers are disparate individuals and not a whole organisation that can be easily changed, the group will operate in the spirit of collective engagement and encouraging establish creatives to use their agency to help change and mentor individuals. They have begun working with different sections and working groups such as AAPTLE and Creative Access and through FMTW will link up with Stage Sight and Curtain Call.
Advocacy and Campaigns Projects
The Advocacy and Campaigning group has been working on a proposal for a large project, for which they have written a proposal. Having built up a really good network of stakeholders (organisations, arts bodies, freelancers) we should shift our focus from political lobbying to establishing ways for freelancers to get back to work.
Freelancers continue to feel left out of conversations and there have still not been any real proposals to get people get back to work – to tackle both of these issues the proposal is to host a number (~3-5) of open discussions around different topics with participants from the freelancer community and theatre organisations. The broad focus would be on how organisations can facilitate freelancers returning to work as well as how the industry can be improved in general, and each session could aim to propose a number of solutions-based goals which could ultimately be formed into some kind of framework or manifesto for working with freelancers.
We are pursuing discussions about funding for the project and an accompanying media series to broaden the project’s reach and make it more interactive. We will need to consider potential venues, topics and participants – ensuring diversity of individuals, disciplines, organisations and geography. Questions were raised about the availability of funding for project-based activity and the reality of asking for solutions from organisations which are supportive but having to cut all of their resources.
Alongside this project and the medium-term nature of its focus, a discussion was had about a series of events with a more short-term focus on pastoral support and social connectivity, especially as the risk of further lockdowns increases. These could potentially take place outdoors and be organised locally by freelancers.
In light of the recent developments with the financial package, we have shelved the planned social media campaign, to be potentially revived at a later date with a longer-term focus on improving the industry. This will be openly acknowledged in next week’s newsletter. We will touch base with the Freelance Taskforce regarding the proposed collaboration.
There are is a Welsh AD group forming next week, with a focus on practical solutions, which we should join and/or propose individuals for.
Utilising the freelancers portraits for a campaign requires a future discussion.
It was suggested that previously proposed engagement with the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review is above our expertise and that if arts bodies are serious about engaging with it then they should hire professional consultants.
Actions for this week include individually feeding back on the proposal for the discussion events, drafting an introductory letter to ADs (individual invitations to follow) and beginning plans the social events, including a date.
- Our social media focus this week has largely been on the new MP letters. Our follower numbers are up but there has been an anticipated drop in engagement between campaigns.
- Work on making the website more accessible continues.
- For next week’s newsletter we will rework copy for the shelved social media campaign into a description of our proposal for the above events and their short, medium and long term focusses.
- We need to ensure that the newsletter always contains a summary of the previous week’s events and what we have been doing in response.
- Email engagement continues to improve and we will begin working out how best to engaging volunteers next week.
Organisational aims and structure
A proposed conversation about FMTW’s long-term aims and organisational structure, and the accompanying funding implications, was postponed for a later date.
However, a discussion was had around a proposal for a more defined model of participation for a greater number of individuals, which would allow us to ease individual commitments as we as potentially empower new participants to join conversations and activity more easily. We will individually look at the proposal this week, as well as another proposal on inviting new participants, and feed back in the next meeting. For the purposes of inviting new individuals without overwhelming them it might be helpful to create a short blurb to explain how the group currently operates and outline the roles individuals are fulfilling.
We are aware that the group has gravitated around a London and England-centric focus, which should be actively opened up to wider geographical activity and support. A discussion was had about the situation in Northern Ireland, which is receiving funding from the UK government but making its own devolved decisions about how to use the money, which is unlikely to benefit freelancers. Proposals have been made for forming a working group focussing on devolved regions setting an agenda point actively discussing how FMTW can engage with arts scenes beyond London and England.
Recap Actions and Deadlines
- Set up working group for short-term event: social meet-ups with a pastoral focus
- Choose a date
- Invite freelancers to host in their local areas
- Set up working group for medium-term events: open forum discussion
- Feed back on proposal
- Draft introductory letter to ADs
- Loop back in to conversations with media outlet
- Loop back in to funding conversations
- Write next week’s newsletter
- Repurpose campaign copy to outline short, medium and long-term plans
- Acknowledge that we are shelving the campaign in light of recent developments
Include a summary of what’s happened during the week and what we are doing
- Individuals to join Welsh AD group
- Think about organisational models for sustainable individual engagement
- Set up a working group for devolved regions
- Touch base on GDPR
- Begin creating database for volunteers
Dates and times for next meetings
Open Discussion events meeting – Monday TBC
Regular Advocacy and Campaigns meeting – Wednesday, 12:00
General meeting – Friday 07 August, 09:30 (Chair: Ola Ince)
For previous FMTW minutes, head to the ‘Our News‘ section of the website.