Chair: Josie Underwood

Minutes: Alistair Cope 

Present: Josie Underwood, Alistair Cope, Paul Carey Jones, Paule Constable, Vicki Mortimer, Susan Kempster, Andrew Macklin, Bill Bankes-Jones, Natalie Abrahami, Sally Wippman, Peter McK, Titas Halder, Leo Wan, Freddie Crossley, Tom Piper, Beth Steel,

Apologies: Mimi Doulton, Sunita Hinduja, Andy Whyment, Ben Arkell, Emma Cameron

Arrival time: 9.30-11.30am

  1. Welcome & introductions (9.30-9.40)

FMTW Values & Anti-racism statement

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

  1. Updates & reports: (9.40-10.30)
  • FMTW so far!!! – AC updated on our current numbers. The headline is that we’ve had half a million visits to the website.
  • Charity status application – As an organisation, we have decided to become a charity. This is a structural decision which also allows us to focus on what FMTW is and what we want it to be going forward. We are in the process of the application which will take around 6 months. Lots of forms etc but during the process we have decided that our ‘charity category’ is actually ‘educate.’ We’ve spent a long time diagnosing the problems and then taking them to the places/people that can fix them. We don;t have the capacity to make the change, but we can educate those who do. We are educating government, industry bodies and empowering other freelancers with their rights and knowledge.

This came from a business day last month.
VM – Worth linking to longevity of FMTW. The charity status is a pragmatic choice in terms of access to funding and cementing our longevity.
PC – The process of us becoming a charity encourages a specificity and means we have to identify what we do. The only expertise any of us have is the ability to talk about it is. I can only talk about my experience. So keeping it specific to that helps relieve some of the ‘we must fix it’ issues which can hand heavy over the room.

  • Website redesign and ongoing media output – AC – We’ll be streamlining the website and pulling everything under three sections. Listen, support and advocate.
  • Communication co-ordinator role – PCJ – As we streamline a grow, we are aware that the work being done is of value and impact. What we haven’t been good at is communicating that back to the freelance workforce. My role is to help communicate that as well as to gather and communicate data. We’re about to start thinking about the 4th Big Freelancer Survey.
    We generate a lot of quantitative data but this is there to back up the qualitative data, the stories.
    In practical terms it means we have a more regular newsletter (mainly from me but we want to make sure there are more voices).
    We’re also utilising the blogs section on our website.
    The shadow arts team has also had a bit of an upgrade so we should make contact there and begin to lobby.
  • Board reformation
    PC – One of the charity processes is that we need to formalise the board. The original board was purely to allow us to register with companies house. The new board needs to keep freelancers at its heart but also needs some financial knowledge, lobbying knowledge etc. We need a Chair or Co-chair. Around that person we form a board. We feel at least 50% of the board is made up of freelancers. We also know we need legal, PR and fundraising advice. We also need diversity of lived experience.
    The board will be formal and will have more formal responsibilities. The board will make sure that FMTW stays true to our charity aims.
    The next step is to approach some individuals to find people who would chair or co-chair FMTW. We are looking for thoughts/suggestions.
    BBJ – we currently have a rotating chair and it is working well. I would also suggest having a degree of flexibility in numbers so we’re no waiting around too much.
    PC – There is an opportunity to model our board where freelancers would get ‘board training’ as part of our board.
    The current board has stepped down from 10 to 3. Vicki, Paule, and Hazel are the current three while in transition. 
    Tom Piper – Could we contemplate Vicki Haywood? Is it useful to talk to someone like her?
    PC – Totally. It would be great to get some suggestions and it would be great to get those in the next couple of weeks.

VM – Could we check in with Leo about the board reform work he did?

Peter Mc – What is the time frame on this? PC – the transition into a charity will take about 6 months so we ideally need this in place in about 2 months.
Peter has offered his time to help with the search and the work around it.
Beth – what is the criteria for the chair we are looking for?
PC – Ideally, someone who has experience of running a charity. It could even be the experience of running a theatre (which are often charities). Someone who shares our values.
VM – Someone who is willing to participate in this ‘experiment.’ This is a ‘from ground up’ project so we need someone wanting to take that on.
BBJ – Very happy to help with this process too and make sure we make a board that isn’t like all the boards we have had bad experiences with. 

  • Freelance Community Reps project introduction – JO/JU
    JU – during our business days we talks about how have consistency within FMTW. When we started, we all had time and fire in our bellies. Since then, out pool of volunteers has diminished mainly because of capacity. People want to the organisation to continue and there is clearly a need for FMTW. So, how do we keep functioning and be lead by freelance voices without burning people out. We have talked about a project (preliminarily called Freelance Community Reps).

JO – We are conscious that there is a lot happening within the organisation (charity status, boards etc) but we need to maintain a group ‘like this.’ How do we keep the freelance voice central in the room. We have been fortunate to receive funding from The Backstage Trust. We are going to run a pilot. 8 freelancers will be paid to meet once per month and provide the central freelance voice within FMTW. The core FMTW staff would use this group of 8 as we currently use the wider group. The 8 would rotate with 4 freelancers dropping out after 3 months and 4 new freelancers come in.
Initially we would draw on the freelancer we know within FMTW before opening it up to the wider industry. The individuals will be paid, supported and offered training (anti-racism, lobbying etc).
The pilot would last 6 months. There would then be our board, our paid, community reps, and our FMTW core staff.
PCJ – what will the community reps be doing? Will it be basically like being an FMTW volunteer but paid? Or will there be other additional responsibilities?
JU – We are in the early stages of forming this and the pilot will help define that.
Beth – Everyone does unpaid work all the time. Being able to pay these freelancers and a time commitment is brilliant. 

Peter – Where are the initial 8 coming from?

Break 10.30–10.40

  1. Agenda points (10.40-11.15)
  • ABTT / HSE 

Email from ABTT:

“ABTT works hard to maintain and reinforce the best possible relationship between the Health and Safety Executive and our industry.  We have really good links with the two officers who are nationally responsible for ‘Entertainment’ in general – Karl Raw and David Kivlin.  The main national structure by which HSE consults with the Entertainment industry is via the Joint Advisory Council for Entertainment (JACE).  JACE meets twice a year in May and November, most recently in a hybrid meeting hosted in-person at a major entertainment operator in rotation (e.g. Pinewood) and online.

After a bit of lobbying Karl has asked if we might help HSE invite FMTW to join JACE and attend meetings. Obviously JACE is very much about the matter of keeping people safe and ensuring compliance with Health, Safety and Welfare legislation.”

  1. Action points (11.15-11.20)

Paul – a blog about why now is the perfect time to write to your MP

Paul – a blog about what the shadow cabinet reshuffle (arts specific) means for us.
Alistair – Bigger push on social media about MPs letters

Paule to email everyone about suggestions for Chairs/Co-chairs

Could we check in with Leo about the board reform work he did?

  1. AOB (11.20-11.30)