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Blog 5: Our work and the Culture Recovery Fund

Updated: Jul 31, 2020


Welcome!


Who are we?


We are a collection of freelancers from the UK Freelance Task Force responding to issues affecting freelancers in Wales. Our practical and creative responses will be through time-limited projects. Welcome to our weekly blog!

If any freelancer needs financial support right now please visit:

https://theatresupport.info/

https://theatreartists.fund/

https://www.trtf.com/fleabag-support-fund - fund will open again from 3rd to 7th August.



What we’ve done this week:

Responded to Welsh Government’s new £53m Culture Recovery Fund:

We responded to the Welsh Government’s announcement of a £53m Culture Recovery Fund for the culture sector in Wales, online, on BBC Radio, and Newyddion S4C. We are grateful for the support, especially as the press release refers to organisations AND individuals being able to apply for additional support. It’s a testament to the work of many individuals and organisations who have been pushing for freelancers to be supported properly.

However, time is running out for many freelancers - we need much more detail, and we need it asap. We are asking for clarity, speed, and further communication from Welsh Government on:

  • What percentage will go to individual freelancers? We have been campaigning Welsh Government and ACW for at least 30%.

  • How will individuals apply via Welsh Government? In our meeting with Arts Council Wales (ACW) last Friday we asked for a straightforward application process, without the 50% self-employed income cap which has stopped so many receiving help, and a better outreach campaign to ensure everyone hears about how to apply for the funding - especially those most in need. We forwarded these suggestions in a letter to Welsh Government, and will write again to ensure that the demands are heard.

  • What is the so-called ‘cultural contract’ and who gets to write it?

Wales Freelance Taskforce will also be offering free assistance for freelancers to apply for this additional round of funding. More details, as soon as we have more details from the Government.


Update on Arts Council Wales meeting:

Arts Council Wales have agreed to consult with us with a regular (biweekly) meeting, and we hope this will be a two-way street, where we will consult each other on decisions and strategies as the industry moves forward.

We suggested a straightforward microgrant scheme for freelancers should any additional funding come to the arts sector (see above).

We asked for data on why only £5.5m of ACW’s announced £7.5m emergency fund has been spent when many were unsuccessful in their grant applications. We hear that certain funds were oversubscribed, others undersubscribed, and have asked for information about how the balance was accrued and why it couldn’t have been transferred to an oversubscribed fund.

We asked for stronger accountability with APW companies honouring freelancer’s contracts. This has been very unequal across the sector. ACW offered that this could be made a condition of APW grants going forward.



Wales Freelance Survey:


In light of the Government announcement, data on freelancers in Wales is more important than ever. The data will help our case as the small details of the fund is being finalised. Please share our Wales Freelancers Survey on your networks, and complete it yourself if you haven’t already.


The survey:

- is a first step towards greater awareness of our specific situation in Wales

- is for any freelancer working in theatre and performance in Wales.

- takes 5-10 minutes to complete.


Your answers are completely anonymous, and no personally identifiable information is collected. The deadline for responses is: Friday 7th August 2020.


www.freelance.wales

www.llawrydd.cymru


Provisional data so far paints an alarming picture, and we can use these statistics to identify and leverage support for those most in need:

  • 95% have lost work due to Covid-19

  • 30% haven’t received any financial support

  • 40% are not sure if they’ll stay or will leave the industry (from the comments: many who hope to stay in the industry are likely to leave Wales).

Wales Freelance Taskforce Green Rooms:


Our ‘Green Room’ initiative is aimed at capturing the voices, opinions and ideas of freelancers across the sector in Wales. These sessions will feed into further more detailed consultations and also allow us to create a first hand account to reflect the voices of freelancers that are so often unheard. These accounts will back up any policy changes and radical ideas that we propose in our future work.

  • Green Rooms are an open invitation to discuss your current situation and look to the future, and will take place via zoom, facilitated by a member of the Taskforce.

  • Each Green Room will have a specific topic or target audience.

  • The cost of access requirements to attend Green Rooms will be covered by Wales Freelance Taskforce


Green Rooms - dates for your diaries:


Deaf and Disabled Freelancers: Friday 7th August, 11.30am.

Registration link here. This Green Room will be a relaxed setting for us to talk about what we need, as freelancers going forward. The meeting will have 2x BSL interpreters and will be captioned using StreamText. If you have any additional access requirements, please let Garrin Clarke know and we will do our best to accommodate: walesfreelancetaskforce@gmail.com

Recorded information (and in BSL) here.


Theatre for Young Audiences Green Room: Wednesday 12th August.

A Wales Freelance Green Room for all freelancers interested in Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) will be held on the afternoon of Weds 12th August - time tbc. Please email Sarah Argent to register your interest: sargentargent65@gmail.com



Update on this week’s Green Rooms:


Glesni met with pregnant women and new parents this week to discuss their concerns and the challenges they face in the ‘new normal’ world. It's abundantly clear that the challenges faced by freelancers choosing to start a family while working in arts were already massive and that Covid has escalated these. Some of the things discussed included


  • No guidelines for pregnant freelancers beginning to work as social distancing guidelines are relaxed but there is still no vaccine.

  • Little or no additional support for freelance parents who have now become full time teachers and carers as well as makers and creatives during the pandemic.

  • How maternity leave can stunt any momentum gained in a career in the arts and how to mitigate against this.

  • The need for more flexible childcare options offered by companies who employ freelance parents with young children, especially larger organisations.

  • Freelancers finding it difficult to access information on their rights as a pregnant person and parent.

  • Lack of Welsh companies signed up to PiPA charter

  • The specific challenges faced by different groups of freelancers during this time in their lives and how companies should acknowledge that one size solutions will not fit all.


Took part in the following meetings and discussions:


A number of Wales-based freelancers were among the 60 people who attended a UK-wide meeting on July 21st to explore the questions:

  • What do you need as freelancers to do your best work?

  • What do you need as freelancers to creatively empower you - to make you feel valued?

Here is a summary of that meeting - (including an easy-read word cloud!):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14TX7agq-yHNo_ohWiOfWGZMEfhg1s6Q71mN55pFV_FQ/edit


The Wales Freelance TYA Green Room will be a development of this conversation. In the meantime, if you would like to answer either of these questions, please email them to sargentargent65@gmail.com


If you’d like more details on the Green Room on August 12th, please also email Sarah on: sargentargent65@gmail.com.

Wellbeing

Angharad has started her wellbeing project which has been received positively. We hope we can find funding to roll this out further in the future.



Useful Links / Info:


National Dance Company Wales have released an opportunity for freelance choreographers to participate in their Laboratori in the Autumn.

https://ndcwales.co.uk/index.php/freelance-opportunity-laboratori-choreographers


Ffilm Cymru’s Ffolio Commissions are open for application http://www.ffilmcymruwales.com/index.php/en/film-makers/ffolio


One Dance UK have a series of ‘Returning to dance’ webinars

https://www.onedanceuk.org/programme/return-to-dance/


Diverse Cymru: All Our Stories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQxWdmTELSY&feature=youtu.be

Ty Pawb are looking for works to be considered for their exhibition: An Exhibition Celebrating Lockdown Creativity https://www.typawb.wales/ty-pawb-open/

The Privilege Cafe continues every Thursday. Email them for a link : https://www.patreon.com/PrivilegeCafe



More about us:


The Taskforce was formed by a mixture of organisations identifying freelancers and an application process.

Here are links to the letter from Fuel and statistics on the Taskforce:

https://fueltheatre.com/an-open-letter-to-theatre-and-performance-makers/

https://fueltheatre.com/freelance-task-force-representation/

Organisations in Wales which have sponsored a member of the Freelance Taskforce are:

Fio, Hijinx Theatre, National Dance Company Wales, National Theatre Wales, Rubicon Dance, Taking Flight, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Theatr Iolo, Wales Millennium Centre.


Sponsored members of the Freelance Task Force in Wales are:

Connor Allen, Shakeera Ahmun, Sarah Argent, Steffan Donnelly, Garrin Clarke, Jafar Iqbal, Zosia Jo, Angharad Lee, Deborah Light, Krystal Lowe, Mathilde Lopez, Anthony Matsena, Hannah McPake and Glesni Price-Jones.

Contact us

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaskForceCymru

Twitter : https://twitter.com/TaskForceCymru

Email: walesfreelancetaskforce@gmail.com


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