Background 

On Thursday 21 May 2020 a group of performing arts organisations, including producing companies and venues, jointly signed a letter in support of the freelancers who make up a large and vital part of the ecology of the performance sector. The letter had 3 main aims: 

  • To listen and respond to the needs of freelancers in the performing arts 
  • To call for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing and until theatres can reopen in earnest 
  • To establish a Freelance Task Force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. 

Each organisation signing up to the letter has committed to paying a freelancer for one day a week throughout June, July and August to join the Freelance Task Force. 

Aims of the Freelance Task Force 

The aim of the Freelance Task Force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It will create ongoing points of connection between freelancers, organisations, funders and government and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come about how we manage the response to and recovery from the Covid-19 crisis in the performing arts sector. 

The Freelance Task Force Member’s Role 

It is up to the Freelance Task Force to establish its own structure as to how it fulfils these aims.  We imagine that the Freelance Task Force will quickly establish its own agenda, set its own mission and organise itself. In sponsoring a freelancer, the signatories hopeeach member will work together with all other members of the Freelance Task Force to: 

  • co-ordinate wider conversations with freelancers in their area and/or specialism 
  • hold and participate in regular Freelance Task Force meetings 
  • attend meetings and events on behalf of the Freelance Task Force 
  • lobby on behalf of the wider freelance community 
  • ensure that information is widely distributed  

Relationship to Sponsor Organisation 

Freelance Task Force members are not expected to represent their Sponsor Organisation or speak on their behalf, nor are they expected to undertake any other duties on behalf of their Sponsor Organisation. 

Freelance Task Force members will operate at arm’s length, responsible to the self-employed community that they are part of. 

It is hoped that each Freelance Task Force member will use this opportunity to inform and influence their Sponsor Organisation, and to draw on their Sponsor Organisation’s support and networks should they need to. How this is achieved will vary from relationship to relationship. 

Remuneration 

Each Freelance Task Force member will be paid for 13 days work i.e. one day a week throughout June, July and August at a rate that reflects the Sponsor Organisation’s typical daily freelance rate.  

This will vary from organisation to organisation but will always meet or exceed minimum union rates and Living Wage recommendations. Freelance Task Force members may choose to role share, in dialogue with their Sponsor Organisation. 

Expenses 

It is not expected that further expenses will be incurred. 

Recruitment 

Every organisation is working in a different way to identify and engage the freelancer they are sponsoring to be part of the taskforce.  Some are appointing directly, some have a criteria and/or process in train, and some are offering to hold back and ‘fill gaps’ in representation.  The task force aims to ensure good representation across the following areas:  

  • Geography 
  • Discipline/role – performance, makers, technical, support roles etc 
  • Diversity – protected characteristics and also class & immigration status 
  • Age/experience range 

Northern Stage intends to run an open process, and will be looking at the following criteria:  

  • Based in & primarily making work in the North East 
  • Primarily working in theatre & performance  
  • Discipline, with reference to the wider representation on the theatre taskforce to ensure the breadth of our sector is represented 

Due to the short deadline we want to make the application process as simple as possible.  We will therefore be asking you to provide:  

  • Your name & contact details 
  • Some information about you and your experience (300 words max) 
  • How you would want to shape the role (300 words max) 
  • Disciplines you work in 

Selection  

To ensure a breadth of voices in the selection process we have invited a number of local practitioners who are or who regularly work with freelancers to help us with selection.  These include:  

Hannabiell Sanders, Harambee Pasadia 

Jen Dewar, Curious Monkey 

Graeme Thompson, Live Theatre 

Catriona McHugh, Open Clasp 

Kate Denby, Northern Stage  

Cinzia Hardy, November Club 

Michael Barras, Unfolding Theatre