FREELANCERS MAKE THEATRE WORK
WEEKLY MEETING MINUTES
09:30-11:30, FRIDAY 17TH JULY
Present: Neil Austin, Rachel Bagshaw, Bill Bankes-Jones, Nafeesah Butt, Alistair Paule Constable, Cope, Debbie Hannan, Sunita Hinduja, Hazel Holder, Jack Hudson, Matt Humphrey, Ola Ince, Susan Kempster, Simon Manyonda, Peter Mckintosh, Prema Mehta, Vicki Mortimer, Chino Odimba, Arran Pallan, Top Piper, Bath Steel, Ella Taylor, Adele Thomas, Andy Whyment
Guest speaker: Adeel Amini from TV Mindset
TV Mindset was formed to provide professional and peer support for freelancers in the TV and film industries, particularly with mental health, as well as bring meaningful change to working practices in the industry.
86% of film and TV workers suffer mental health issues compared to 60% national average and freelancers have to deal with the stresses of maintaining work without the supportive facilities available to workers at organisations. It is important to remember that groups and initiatives are not able to provide, and should not be a replacement for, professional therapy.
As well as providing a peer network for freelancers they facilitate training and buddying systems and campaign for structural changes within organisations that tackle the roots of the issue rather than quick fixes like mental health first aiders. The number of people using TV Mindset has increased since the crisis, during with the group has been hosting webinars on topics dealing with mental health and other issues.
All information on their activity can be found on their social channels, particularly Facebook.
We are still working out the best system for sorting emails and have divided up responding to some messages. The new website will separate signing up to the mailing list and submitting messages. Once it is up and running, It would be beneficial to draft a more informative auto-response.
Advocacy and Campaign Working Group
The sub-group has identified five possible actions points, balancing campaigning for immediate support with improvements to the industry:
- Practical tools and/or guides for those in need, e.g. funding application advice.
- A social media campaign calling for people to post ideas for an improved industry, which can feed into the relevant campaigns.
- A statement to theatres/arts bodies requesting a rebalance of power – condensed to clear targets, e.g. freelancers on boards. Potentially created in collaboration with other groups.
- A statement to theatre outlining 6 principles for restarting the industry such as better contracts and childcare provision.
- A public exhibition of the portraits submitted by freelancers, which could be led in collaboration with other campaign groups and combined with stats from the survey, e.g. 1 in 3 freelancers considering leaving the industry.
We need to determine the manner and the extent to which we encourage people to apply for arts council funding, especially in light of money being allocated to projects rather than individuals. We could potentially formalise a relationship with the arts council in order to facilitate clearer communication with freelancers and to ensure all branches are receiving information from us such as the Routes to Recovery document.
It is important to support individuals who are thinking of leaving the industry as well – the idea of a buddying system with other people from careers was suggested.
As a group we will refrain from weighing in on the discussions around high salaried individuals at funded organisations in order to maintain focus on the financial situation of freelancers, but we are aware of the controversy and may engage on an individual basis.
This week we will develop a statement to organisations combining the two proposals, and launch to social media campaign, as well as continuing to consider engagement with the arts council.
Individuals from FMTW attended two online sessions hosted by Theatre 503 and outlined the aims and activity of the group. A key message from the discussions was that executive directors are being missed out of the messaging.
Website and social media
The website will transfer to the new platform this weekend, with minimal interruption. Most of the changes will be aesthetic. The next step is to sort the large number of resources on the site into a more useable structure.
Social media continues to receive warm feedback and engagement.
- Suggestions for this week’s newsletter centred around issues outside of London and ACE.
- The activity around mental health will be ready for next week’s newsletter.
- It was suggested that a future letter cover collaborations and relationships with other campaign groups.
Bias training discussion
We exploring bias training for FMTW but this will require some funding.
Update: FUEL Task Force update
FMTW members joined a meeting with the Taskforce sub-group and identified two action points:
- the 6 point statement to theatres
- Engaging with unions
We will continue to collaborate on these, share resources and persue consistent messaging.
Who are we missing in this team?
We are approaching individuals to ensure the group is representative of all regional areas and career stages. We will update the list of individuals who have been involved on the website with new wording to emphasise that it is a shifting group of volunteers.
Speaker: Prema Mehta on behalf of Stage Sight
Stage Sight was founded because off-stage workers did not reflect society, especially in terms of ethnically, class, and disability. They work with member organisations to encourage theatres to recruit from wider networks (Recruitment), raise awareness of off-stage roles (Reaching Out) and develop new pathways (New Pathways) into the industry beyond the traditional drama school model.
The group is open to individuals, both from the identified areas and those individuals from the industry at large who want to support our values, and organisations, who must make a practical commitment to change in at least one of these areas. These pledges are listed on website as initiatives, of which there are currently 183, which will be evaluated and used as a case study into what is working and what is not. We are a platform for shared learning to ensure changes can be implemented nationally. It is free to join, we simply ask for practical commitment to develop work in at least one of these three areas to implement change.
Stage Sight offers consultancy and hosts forums on different issues of the industry, with an increased focus on individuals (freelancers) since the crisis, especially those at risk of leaving. They have been offering drop in sessions to individual members as a space to discuss improvements to the industry, and set up a support network of mentoring schemes linking people with areas they are interested in.
Recap action points and deadlines
- Combine two proposed statements to theatres/arts organisations
- Launch social media campaign
- Develop relationship with the arts council
- Meet on Monday to allocate tasks for campaigns
- Draft newsletter, including paragraph on mental health
- Draft sentence for team on website
- Regular group meeting: Friday 24th July (09.30-11:30) Chair: Adele Thomas
- Advocacy and Campaign meeting on Monday, alongside regular Wednesday meeting
- Well-being meeting on Tuesday
- Investigate applying for Arts Council funding as a group.
- Kier Starmer joined a What Next meet and has invited engagement with Labour opposition
- Discuss how to utilise volunteers in working groups
- We have successfully become an not for profit company
For previous FMTW minutes, head to the ‘Our News‘ section of the website.