In all the Freelancers Make Theatre Work planning that has taken place over the past six months, we can assure you that sending a survey link on Boxing Day was not part of the strategy.

We are tired.

We know many of you are tired too.

And we know the importance of rest.  

We also know that rest does not come without a feeling of safety and with the industry reeling from the impact of the Omicron variant after twenty months of uncertainty that few freelancers have any sense of safety net.

We believe our role is to lobby for strategic responses to the ever changing situation that not only recognise freelancers’ concerns but that lead to sustainable and meaningful change.

Time and again, the biggest challenge we face is the absence of data reflecting the workforce, and more so data which reflects the different circumstances created with each guideline change.  

Over the course of our work we have come to understand that , the further up the decision tree you aim, the less anecdotal evidence is likely to meaningfully impact policy making.

So two questions remain 

  • How do we collect ongoing data when we know that lots of people are loathed to compete yet another survey (possibly because they don’t trust that doing so leads to improved conditions after they experience over the past two years)?
  • And, how do we collect data which is relevant without retraumatizing the workforce?

These questions were the basis for our initial conversations with officials from DCMS, when they arranged an emergency meeting regarding data gathering about the impact of Omicron, on Thursday 23rd December.

Essentially, DCMS need to measure the impact of recent events to inform future planning.  

Understanding that the freelance workforce in England need a plan (the Devolved Government’s have already launched cancellation bursaries, applications for which open January), we believe that supporting this data gathering is the most constructive action we can take given the urgency of the situation.

We are undertaking this work in the clear knowledge that there are no promises about what happens next, this isn’t a sneaky deal where we provide stats and miraculous schemes for freelancers will appear.  It’s genuine research.  We gather the data, then analysis begins.

However, we also know that if we don’t distribute this survey, the information gathered around freelancers will be done via organisations and therefore may have a different narrative to that which a freelancer may give.

This is not to position ourselves in opposition to organisations but it is to recognise that the people who can speak most accurately to the freelance experience are (surprisingly) freelancers.

As the crisis continues, it’s more important than ever that freelance experiences are visible and positioned in a way that strengthens the likelihood of them informing policy.

So, if you work in England and if you have the energy we would really encourage you to complete the survey before the midnight deadline. The broader the perspectives the clearer the narrative of what our industry is, who these cancellations impact and the potential impact of the future.

The survey is short and to the point, this is the data needed now as the situation unfolds before us. As well as collating this data, we will continue to explore ways of gathering information so that times of crisis are not always followed by a rush of surveys.

It’s still an imperfect system, but by continuing to make our voices heard the understanding of the industry is shifting.

Make your experience heard now: Click here to take the survey

As it’s the holiday season many of the usual channels to share this survey will be having a break and it’s so important we get this snap shot to DCMS so please, please – if you could share as widely as possible it would be amazing.  THANK YOU