Round Up Blog
Hello! This is the final blog from the Wales Freelance Taskforce in its current form. The initial 13-week pilot supported by Fuel and sponsor organisations has now come to an end. There is still some work ongoing by Taskforce members which will be released in due course.
The Wales Freelance Taskforce is considering continuing in some capacity as an independent body to strengthen the voice of theatre and performance freelancers in Wales. Members would rotate annually. We would help build a better, more resilient and equitable sector for freelancers.
After a pause some of us are going to re-group to plan moving forwards. We will make the process open, transparent and inclusive. If you’d like to get involved, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, thank you for your support.
Click for BSL and Captioned version
What did we achieve?
Logistics and Operations
Established weekly meetings with rotating chairperson and minute-taker.
Agreed Accessibility and Welsh Language Policy. Organised a translator (provided by Theatr Genedlaethol) and Accessibility Fund (Arts Council Wales).
Wrote to Arts Portfolio Wales companies asking for them to donate funds to aid our work (eg. paying freelancers for advice or for BSL interpreters). Thanks to these organisations who supported us: Ballet Cymru, Blackwood Miners Institute, Emma Evans, Tanio, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Theatr Clwyd, and Wales Millennium Centre.
Social statistics: On Twitter we currently have over 700 followers, with 200 tweets in 3 months. On Facebook we currently have 676 followers and thousands of post engagements.
Advising and Lobbying
Encouraged freelancers in Wales to write to their MPs asking for emergency support.
Wrote to Arts Council Wales and Welsh Government to ask that 25-30% of any additional emergency funding for arts, heritage, and cultural sector goes to freelancers, along with recommendations for the application mechanism for this funding.
Set up regular consultations with Arts Council Wales senior leadership, including discussions on re-opening grant funding and a new support strand for September 2020. We expect details of a new strand of lottery funding to be announced soon.
Advised Creative Wales/Welsh Government on the details of the Freelance Fund (part of the £53m emergency package announced by Welsh Government), and the associated freelancer pledge. We have been urging Creative Wales to make this fund as fair and easy to access for freelancers across the sector as possible. We understand the fund will open on the 5th Oct further details of it will be released soon: https://gov.wales/find-out-if-you-are-eligible-support-cultural-recovery-fund
Produced a set of recommendations for ACW: covering immediate lottery funding, funding models going forwards, APW’s responsibilities to ACW and ACW’s processes and strategies. Held meetings with senior team to discuss these: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cnMkPwcsi6eooYHc6VQU6djm44vjtr_t/view?usp=sharing
Projects and Policy Initiatives
Launched the Wales Freelance Survey with 420 respondents, the first survey of its kind to get a greater understanding of the situation for freelancers in Wales. The data is available online (Creative Commons license) at freelance.wales or llawrydd.cymru, and has been used in our consultations with ACW, Creative Wales, and Welsh Government.
Produced a final, fully accessible report -- Rebalancing and Reimagining -- (see more below) summarising our work and recommending strategies for organisations and funders: www.freelance.wales/report
Launched the Our Voice project to collect and share the experience of Welsh and Wales-based Black Artists: This work will continue, by gathering more experiences, and will be shared publicly in January 2021. Here's a sneak peak:
Launched a well-being project for actors.
Contributed to the Freelance Taskforce UK guide on best practice for organisations and freelancers.
Drew up a proposal for a Basic Income for arts and performance freelancers in Wales: https://www.zosiajo.com/post/who-get-s-to-be-artists. Consultation about this is ongoing with ACW, Equity Wales, and Welsh Government. The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has called for a Basic Income pilot for creatives giving this proposal political traction: https://www.futuregenerations.wales/news/future-generations-commissioner-calls-for-a-universal-basic-income-pilot-for-creatives/
Listening and Consulting
Hosted 10 Green Room meetings aimed at capturing the voices, opinions and ideas of freelancers across the sector in Wales. We discussed particular concerns, roles, or protected characteristics with freelancers in each Green Room:
Rhondda Cynon Taf freelancers
Freelancers working in the Welsh Language
Deaf and disabled freelancers
Neurodivergent Actors from Hijinx Academies
Were part of the TYA subgroup that hosted a large-scale meeting for freelancers to speak to organisations about what freelancers need in order to make their best work, and how organisations respond in order to support them.
Held 12 meetings with organisations about their response to Covid-19’s impact on freelancers, recommending best practice as the crisis unfolded and strategies for recovery.
Attended/contributed to meetings across the UK, including: SOLT/UK Theatre, What Next? Cardiff, Privilege Cafe, Equity, Rural Touring Forum, Arts Councils, Creu Cymru, UK Taskforce and its subgroups.
We shared our work with other UK Taskforce members and sponsor organisations at a meeting organised by Fuel to signal the end of the pilot Taksforce project.
Met with Equity Wales to offer freelancers’ perspectives on the impacts of Covid- 19, Welsh Government’s re-opening guidance, data gathering, Wales’ Cultural Contract and Basic Income.
Responded to media requests for interviews on BBC Radio, S4C News, Creative Cardiff Podcast, and Eisteddfod Amgen.
Our ‘Rebalancing and Reimagining’ report
The Wales Freelance Taskforce published a report as a stimulus for Rebalancing and Reimagining the theatre and performance sector in Wales. It features data from the Wales Freelance Survey, sums up the work of the Taskforce, and offers strategies for organisations and Arts Council Wales to support the freelance community and create a more equal, diverse, and resilient culture. The data backs up the urgency of this need and we hope organisations and ACW will work on our recommendations.
A glance at some of our statistics:
• 94% of theatre and performance freelancers in Wales lost work due to Covid-19.
• The vast majority (90%) had lost up to £20,000 of earnings.
• 47% received no financial support from the Government’s SEISS scheme.
• 27% do not have sufficient income to live on.
• 33% do not know whether they will stay in or leave the industry.
• 79% said their well-being was negatively affected.
• 70% do not feel included in planning for the future of the creative sector in Wales.
• On average women are paid 25% less than men.
Read the report (including audio, easy read, BSL and captioned) and see the data here:
This report highlights the need for a rebalancing of the theatre and performance sector in Wales to empower and include freelancers, especially those who have been historically marginalised. Our recommendations (numbered) include:
ensuring marginalised people and those with protected characteristics are represented in and meaningfully engaged with organisations (1-30)
changes to organisational governance (31-35)
organisations and Arts Council Wales (ACW) taking more responsibility for the long-term development and upskilling of freelancers (36-58).
changes to Arts Council Wales’ funding schemes, application mechanisms, and accountability processes (59-71).
strategies for development and sustainability of Welsh language work (72-77)
more subsectoral and regional analysis by ACW, and we start by offering recommendations to develop the Dance sector (78-82) and north Wales (83-87).
Organisations can use this moment to take stock of their community and reflect on how they sit within it: do you develop or produce any Welsh-language work? Are the only people of colour or deaf and disabled people you work with freelancers? Can you share more of your space/resources with the freelance workforce? Can more of the freelancers you engage be based in Wales?
Deborah Light has connected with the UK FTF Dance Group
A summary of UK FTF Dance Group’s work can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1d9EOl_fYAkr8VU8T6w88FK7XMNDA-VaZ/view?usp=sharing
The work includes: - 5 Guiding Principles document - a fair trade model draft for freelancers.
- IDEALLL - a working practices draft document addressing anti-racism and advocating inclusive practice across dance and movement sectors. - Black Lives Matter (BLM) in Dance subgroup. - Anti-Racism and Inclusion Index, which identifies cross-country initiatives, resources and best-practice examples within the Arts. - Pay Structures document for movement and dance-related work, with the aim to get this
addressed and taken up by various arts trade unions and organisations. - National Portfolio Individual/Artist (NPI/NPA) proposals.
Deborah is compiling a paper on dance in Wales with a focus on what ACW and APW’s can do to support freelance dance artists based on stats and data from the Wales freelancer survey and ACW together with insights from individuals and the Dance Greenroom.
Key stats are:
76% of dance artists earn £15,000 or less compared to 42% of survey respondents as a whole, 71% supplemented their income compared to 45% of respondents as a whole, 41% don't know if they will stay in the industry compared to 33% of respondents as a whole.
ACW data shows that dance-specific APWs receive 6% of total portfolio funding. National Dance Company Wales receives only 32% of the combined budget for Theatr Genedlaethol and National Theatre Wales. Only 4% of lottery funding in 2019/20 went to 17 projects where more than 50% of the project was dance activity.
Key recommendations are:
ACW should increase funding levels for dance (via the portfolio/lottery and strategic funds) ACW should develop a strategy for dance in Wales in consultation with those who are part of the sector including freelancers. ACW should ensure dance sector knowledge is present and an active part of dance grant award decision making. Dance APWs should share access to space and other resources with freelancers and project funded orgs. Dance APW’s should engage Welsh/Wales based dance artists.
Venues and production houses should ensure they are presenting/commissioning/ producing/supporting dance and engaging dance artists from Wales as part of their activity.
Full paper will be available in the next couple of weeks and will be shared on taskforce social media and Groundwork blog
Message from Sarah Argent:
Along with others, I spent the majority of my time on the Task Force asking freelancers in Wales and UK-wide, working in Theatre for Young Audiences and in the wider theatre and dance world:
What do you need to do your best work?
What makes you feel creatively empowered and valued?
. . . practically, financially, in terms of communication with and emotional support from companies and venues.
A report on this will be published shortly.
I’ve been asking freelancers working in Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA):
What are the most wonderful responses you’ve received from a child or young person; a parent or carer; a teacher; head teacher or other member of school staff?
What’s the most patronising thing anyone has ever said about you working in TYA?
What has been the hardest thing and the most rewarding thing?
What are you most proud of in our sector (either now or in the past), and what changes would you most like to see?
In Theatre for Young Audiences we don’t win the economic arguments, but we do focus on the emotional well-being of our children and young people – and we do change lives!
The answers will be shared soon!
Message from Steffan Donnelly:
I work as an actor and theatre-maker in north Wales and London, and I spent most of my time engaged with the Wales Freelance Taskforce, working on things like:
Launching the Wales Freelance Survey to get a grasp of the Wales-specific situation.
Writing the Rebalancing and Reimagining report, to offer strategies to support freelancers.
Meeting with Creative Wales to advise on the details of the Welsh Government’s Freelance Fund (part of the £53m Welsh Government emergency package). I am on Creative Wales’ Freelance Pledge Working Group.
Speaking with over 50 freelancers and various organisations to understand how the Taskforce could best help.
Things I’ve been thinking about:
I’ve been particularly worried about freelancers in north Wales who feel ‘cut off’ from the arts industry, which is ‘Cardiff-centric’. 41% of respondents living in north Wales don’t know whether or not they will stay in the industry. My report asks for increased funding levels, for increased opportunities, a system which connects organisations with freelancers across the region, and more touring and interviewing in north Wales.
The Welsh Language
19% of the population of Wales speaks Welsh. Covid-19 could reduce an already small pool of Welsh-language theatre-makers and freelancers. Some Welsh speaking respondents who said they will stay in the industry added it would likely be outside of Wales. Organisations should make more work in Welsh, and increase support of Welsh-language theatre-makers.
See our report for recommendations to strengthen these and other members of the freelance community: freelance.wales/report
Respondents expressed many concerns around the development of Welsh-language work in Wales, in terms of scale, experimentation, and APWs over-reliance on other, Welsh-language companies to provide this work on their behalf. They cited a lack of experimental spaces in Welsh, lack of a range of Welsh-language opportunities in Welsh-speaking areas, and the limited ‘fringe scene’ in Wales being largely through the medium of English.
19% of Wales speaks Welsh. Using this as a guide, 20% of development opportunities and associate roles should be given to Welsh speakers. Venues should help develop audiences by offering more than one night for a Welsh show.
Portfolio companies (who are not exclusively English or non-language based) should produce at least 1 Welsh language production per year - they could be held accountable by Arts Council Wales possibly along the lines of the way that countries such as France have a minimum threshold for French language songs on radio (Toubon Law).
These suggestions will contribute towards the Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 initiative to extend the number of Welsh speakers to 1 million by 2050. Publicly-funded organisations must take their share of responsibility for achieving this.
A statement from Welsh Government re. Freelancer Cultural Recovery fund:
“We have been working with a number of partners on the design of the application process for the freelancer fund, and have confirmed that local authorities will be the key delivery partners. We want as many of the freelancer community to be aware of and have the time to apply for this fund, with this in mind applications will go live on Monday 5th October. Guidance on how to apply will be provided before this date, and we expect to be making funding decisions through October in line with the funding via the Arts Council of Wales and support for organisations via Welsh Government.”
Welsh Government reopening guidelines are now available here:
Arts Council Wales are looking for Creative Agents https://arts.wales/news-jobs-opportunities/were-looking-for-creative-agents
Arts Council Wales Sharing Together Fund is Re-opening soon.
Future Labs is a series of panels featuring discussion, good practice and practical solutions.
Freelancers Make Theatre Work are looking for engaged freelancers to take part - this is a PAID opportunity. https://freelancersmaketheatrework.com/futurelabs/
Members of the Wales Freelance Task Force:
Aelodau noddedig o’r Tasglu Llawrydd yng Nghymru:
Connor Allen Jafar Iqbal Mathilde Lopez
Shakeera Ahmun Zosia Jo Anthony Matsena
Sarah Argent Angharad Lee Hannah McPake
Steffan Donnelly Deborah Light Glesni Price-Jones
Garrin Clarke Krystal Lowe
Organisations in Wales which have sponsored a member of the Freelance Taskforce are:
Sefydliadau yng Nghymru sydd wedi noddi aelod o’r Tasglu Llawrydd:
Fio National Dance Company Wales Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru
Hijinx Theatre Rubicon Dance Theatr Iolo
National Theatre Wales Taking Flight Wales Millennium Centre / Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru