/ Sector News

Freelancers in the Dark – thinking about what has happened and what will happen next

Dr Ali FitzGibbon FHEA

Throughout the UK, a nationwide research study – Freelancers in the Dark – is being conducted about theatre in the UK and COVID19 and particularly about freelancers working in theatre during this time. It started in August 2020 and is engaging with freelancers from all aspects of theatre work (artists, technicians, producers, designers, all roles) and from as diverse a range of disciplines, backgrounds and communities as possible. It is also engaging with organisations and venues and with a wide array of trade unions, associations and networks in the theatre world of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are capturing the experiences of theatre during COVID19 and trying to think about the future, using this research to shape a range of reports and creative responses that will inform and shape policy and future resilience (that certainly is what we hope). Some of you have already been interviewed as part of the project and we will have a lot more ways to engage with it to come. Right now, the way you can take part is to contribute information to 2 surveys – for organisations/venues and freelancers. Both surveys are open until 28 February 2021 and take between 10 and 20 minutes to complete.

We know there have been lots of surveys and reports and many of the individuals and organisations reading this have been leading these campaigns. We know findings have been presented to government departments, local authorities, sector and funding bodies, and the press. We have looked at a lot of the reports and data. This project continues that work. We are combining what we gather from those reports, and what we hear in these two surveys, with interviews, discussions, and creative engagements throughout 2021. We are gathering information on artistic evolution and change, policy challenges, the relationships between freelancers and companies, changes in how you work and what you value, the negative and the positive.

Just when you think you have done as many forms as you can manage, someone comes along and asks you to fill in ANOTHER survey. And yes I am asking you to do that. If you are someone working in theatre as a freelancer in any way or if you are running a company or venue that works in theatre (or if you are doing both), I need you to tell us what is happening and how you are thinking about what happens next. We know the landscape is changing. We know the picture is evolving and we need you to tell us how.

Both surveys close on 28 February 2021 and we will be producing preliminary findings between May and July. Please contribute and share these links to get as many responses as possible. Organisation/Venue survey link: https://freelancersinthedark.wordpress.com/2021/01/22/tell-us-organisations-venues-survey/ Freelancers survey link: https://freelancersinthedark.wordpress.com/2020/12/16/launching-the-freelancers-survey/

We will be promoting other ways of engaging with the project and releasing some of our discoveries throughout 2021 until we end with a full final report in January 2022. To find out more, visit our website: www.freelancersinthedark.com. You can sign up to our newsletter there and follow us on social media:

Twitter @FreelancersITD

Instagram @freelancersitd

Facebook Freelancers in the Dark

Freelancers in the Dark is a COVID19 rapid response research project supported by the ESRC and run by researchers from University of Essex (East 15 Performing Arts School); Manchester Metropolitan University; Queen’s University Belfast