Task Force Cymru
Weekly Update 2!
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://www.trtf.com/fleabag-support-fund - opens July 14th
What we’ve done this week:
The Taskforce have spoken with over 40 freelancers this week, hearing their concerns and suggestions. This has fed into the work you see below.
Taskforce signed a letter from the Theatre Industry in Wales to the Welsh Government recommending a government level taskforce (which should include freelancers) to advise on recovery. The letter highlighted the positive and united impact the arts can make on Wales' recovery. We are awaiting a response from the government and will keep you updated on how this develops.
We are eagerly awaiting more information by DCMS and Welsh Government about the £59m fund which was announced on the evening of Sunday 5th July. We passionately believe that this fund needs to help freelancers as well as ‘bricks and mortar’ organisations.
Hannah McPake worked with Sarah Argent on an internal working policy for the Wales branch of the Taskforce to follow. Hannah also facilitated consultations with recent graduates, facilitators, and Hijinx Academy members.
Amongst other sobering statistics about the future of our workforce, the ‘COVID-19 Routes to Recovery’ report states that 35% of freelancers in North Wales are ‘likely to leave’ the industry:
https://7aedbaad-21a9-4d25-996e-e75fbfef64fd.filesusr.com/ugd/b60e8d_4dc33343f30c4e32ad06a3e5a42ae095.pdf. Steffan Donnelly has been in contact with many freelancers in North Wales, as well as community touring companies based there - recognising the need for outstanding community companies to be involved in the conversation. See this Twitter thread for more information: https://twitter.com/steff_donnelly/status/1280528879736836097.
Steffan Donnelly has written to S4C asking for them to recognise the wider ecology, especially how freelancers often hone their craft and skills in theatre before moving into broadcast. The letter asks for financial support for freelancers, wider engagement with broadcasting theatre work, sharing technical and design workers, and a commitment to developing Welsh-language directors and writers. We will send similar letters to BBC Wales and production companies who benefit greatly from Wales’ theatre freelancers.
Anthony Matsena, Deborah Light, Krystal Lowe and Zosia Jo have connected as a Dance/Wales Subgroup to lead on issues affecting the dance sector. Get in touch if you have any dance/movement specific thoughts or concerns: email@example.com
We have confirmed offers of £1600 from organisations and individuals which we will use on consultations with other freelancers and covers access costs. We are very grateful to these organisations: Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Tanio, Ballet Cymru, Blackwood Miners Institute, August 012 and private individuals. We hope other organisations will decide to support our work and are in talks with many of them about this. Here is the letter asking for support which we sent to all Arts Portfolio Wales organisations last week.
An application has been made to ACW to support access costs associated with task force activity Funds for access have been offered by WMC in the interim.
Angharad Lee is designing 3 well being sessions, specifically for actors who feel they would like some support during this challenging time and will be sharing info on these sessions early next week. Please keep an eye out on Angharad Lee’s social media pages and also the Leeway Productions social media pages.
Angharad Lee has been speaking with freelancers based within Rhondda Cynon Taff to gather info on particular needs at the moment and wants for the future. She will be hosting Freelance Task Force Green Room sessions, open to ALL freelancers within theatre and performance and who live or are from Rhondda Cynon Taff. Please see the Green Room section below.
Zosia Jo has written a letter to ACW calling for a basic income for artists and, once agreed and tweaked with Taskforce, will be open for signatures. Zosia began the process by writing this blog and is now adapting the proposal according to feedback: “I am looking to have conversations with freelance artists in order to make sure the proposal is workable and benefits everyone. I also want to gather stories and testimonials to back up my argument. Get in touch!”
Sarah Argent has been working with Hannah McPake on Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) subgroup of the UK Freelance Taskforce on a UK-wide conversation (July 21st: 10.30-12.00) focusing on freelancers’ experiences, needs & desires. Sarah has also been gathering data about creating, programming and producing TYA and Sarah is particularly interested in the views of freelancers. Look out for #TYAQUESTIONS on Twitter or DM me your email for the questions @sargent65. I’ve also been working with TYA Cymru @tya_cymru planning a series of Green Rooms - watch this space.
Mathilde Lopez contacted Aidan Lang, Welsh National Opera’s artistic director to ask for financial help to pay for consultations with freelancers. She also shared the open letter to the government from national and larger organisations urging the WNO to join and support the conversations currently happening in the sector.
Steffan Donnelly and Glesni Price-Jones have planned two initial consultation sessions with Welsh speaking freelancers next week. These will be followed up by further consultations, and more open sessions, including our first open Green Room this Friday 17th July at 10.30am (see below for details).
Many individuals from the taskforce are attending other cross sector meetings with groups such as What’s Next Cymru, SOLT, Creu Cymru, UK Taskforce, and Producers Place to ensure that freelance voices are represented in as many conversations as possible. We are still waiting on Arts Council Wales for confirmation of our meeting (due to annual leave).
There has been much conversation about the potential barriers for freelancers on returning to work, and our discussions have included insurance and health and safety measures for freelancers moving forward. There has been an agreement that organisations can specifically look at this and support freelancers with this, and we will update as soon as we know more.
Wales Freelance Taskforce Green Rooms
We are preparing to launch a series of ‘Green Rooms’ 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 will be an open invitation and will take place via zoom, facilitated by a member of the Taskforce.
The cost of access requirements to attend Green Rooms will be covered by Wales Freelance Taskforce
Topics and groups proposed for Green Rooms currently are Stage Management, Lighting Designers, D/deaf and Disabled Freelancers, Theatre for Young Audiences, Welsh Language Workers, Pregnant People and New Parents, Dance Artists, Freelancers who have never applied for ACW support, Working Class Communities, Early Career Freelancers.
Times and dates will be announced as the sessions are arranged - some are already announced below.
Following the open call Green Room sessions we will plan a series of smaller paid consultation sessions with individuals and small groups whose voices are often unheard.
If you as an individual or a group have a topic that you think we should be talking about in a Green Room session please let us know via email or our social media platforms so that we can make it happen!
Next week, we will run the following Green Rooms:
Dance - Survival & Growth Thursday 16th July: 4pm - 5.30pm This is an open meeting for freelance dance/movement artists, practitioners, choreographers, performers to discuss your needs, and to enable us to bring your voices and concerns to the table. Please see Groundworkpro.com for more details. If you’d like to attend, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let us know your access needs with sufficient notice so that we can best accommodate you.
Welsh Language Freelance Workers Friday 17th July: 10.30 - 11.30am Your concerns can be about anything, but there is space to focus on issues affecting the Welsh-language community. This session will be facilitated in Welsh only, and is aimed at Welsh-language workers, artists, and facilitators in any stage of their career. Space is limited to 10 people. If there is more demand we will organise another time for a second Green Room on this subject. If you’d like to attend, please email: email@example.com. If you have access requirements, please let us know by Wednesday 15th July.
Rhondda Cynon Taff Freelance Workers Thursday 20th July : 11am-12.30pm A safe space for RCT Freelancers to share concerns about the now, the future and suggest action points for the Task Force moving forward. Please let us know your access needs by Thursday July 16th so that we can best accommodate you. If you’d like to attend, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Things we are exploring:
-Arts Council England are looking at special funding to be earmarked for recent graduates. We were very encouraged by this and will push Arts Council Wales on this idea.
-Many conversations we have had have outlined the need for a body specifically representing freelancers to be born from this current crisis. With organisations such as Creu Cymru in Wales representing Venues, is it time for a specific support for freelancers also?
-We are exploring the legal status for freelancers and also the IR35 structures which have meant so many of us being left behind needs looking at urgently.
-Where does Culture sit within the green economy of the future?
TIME = MONEY ARTIST BURSARY from National Theatre Wales - Deadline 26th of July.
Solidarity Project's database of Black and POC actors in Wales:
Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/performing-arts?fbclid=IwAR3a2XSOLpnkRiodwS52Na_EzBlu7fjiIowRgvWWmBkv2M1qB8RuhDrhCpI
COVID-19 Guidance for the safe use of multi purpose community facilities:
Exchange Project (freelancers and furloughed professionals sign up to meet for professional development and artistic growth):
COVID-19 ‘Routes to Recovery’ Report:
England only info here but may be useful:
Free membership to Rural Touring Forum for 1 year:
Resources for freelancers:
NODA have been working to support the amateur sector throughout the pandemic. Great organisation:
National Association of Youth Theatres have some interesting training opportunities:
Creative Network from Voluntary Arts have been running some very valuable sessions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/820380415126121/
Fantastic initiative here from Glasgow:
Jerwood Arts newsletter, including information on Jerwood/FVU Awards for UK-based moving-image artists in the first five years of developing their professional practice:
Things you can do, right now:
-We would encourage artists to engage with the WHAT NEXT? Zoom meetings so we are hearing from a much more diverse voice within these sessions (see below)
What Next Cymru: Wednesday’s 8.30am
What Next Valleys: Tuesday’s 9.30am
CULT CYMRU have been offering some excellent workshops. Info via link:
If you feel this is something you would like to add your signature to, here is the Plaid Cymru letter to Welsh Government:: https://www.partyof.wales/support_for_the_arts
More about us:
The Taskforce was formed by a mixture of organisations identifying freelancers and an application process.
We are being paid for 13 days work, some of us are job sharing.
Here are links to the letter from Fuel and statistics on the Taskforce:
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:
Sarah Argent, Steffan Donnelly, Garrin Clarke, Jafar Iqbal, Zosia Jo, Angharad Lee, Deborah Light, Krystal Lowe, Mathilde Lopez, Hannah McPake, Gavin Porter, Glesni Price-Jones and Jafar Iqbal.
Twitter : https://twitter.com/TaskForceCymru