I am writing this post after my first task force meeting. There were over 150 freelancers on Zoom from across the country – quite a monumental moment.
In the sub-groups we broke away into, I got to hear some of the thoughts and feelings of some of the fellow task force members. I have sat in a few groups locally and the same hopes, fears and dreams were echoed in this group. The points that resonated with me the most were around the idea of a new world order.
There was hope that it is time for a new world order in theatre to address the power imbalances. We as freelancers are 70% of the industry but don’t make 70% of the major decisions that directly affect us. Regardless of the monetary situation at the end of this time, the way freelancers are treated, contracted, and supported can be revolutionised.
On the flip side to this there are lots of practicalities to be thought about. It’s great we have blue sky thinking, but what about now those who have fallen through the cracks? What systems are we going to have in place if this happens again? The furlough scheme is coming to an end, funding is closed, and our sector still has no definitive open dates.
Some big West End shows will not open until 2021. Major cities are saying libraries, museums and art galleries may not be open without help, meaning job losses. So even if we do get this new utopian freelance dream, who will be left standing to reap the benefits of this reform?
For me I will next be sitting in Zoom chats with SOLT/UK Theatre, Equity and Arts Council England with many more to follow. This will hopefully give me a good overview of what championing, campaigning, and support is coming.
One of my mantras is ‘act locally think globally’. I am a results-driven person and want to see change locally. My question is, how can HOME and the rest of the Manchester venues and arts organisations become beacons of excellence in the way they treat the freelance community?
Like the quote says: “This is Manchester, we do things differently here.”
At this time I want to be actionary, not reactionary. I want to do things differently as they have to be different.
If you have any thoughts you would like to share with me please email Darrenpritcharddance@gmail.com