An open letter to theatre and performance makers

We are proud to be a signatory of this open letter to theatre and performance makers, alongside many other theatre, performance companies and venues across the UK.

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This is a letter to self-employed and freelance theatre and performance makers in the UK. To the actors, playwrights, directors, choreographers, stage managers, designers, stage crews and set-builders to name just a few.

We really miss being with you during this period of lockdown. Making theatre and performance is a collaborative endeavour, so we are particularly affected by having to be apart from one another right now. We’re not able to come together, in the same space, to share the experience of a live performance. We’re not able to practise and enjoy our artform in its most basic form.

It’s now looking increasingly likely that won’t be possible for months to come, and we recognise that many freelancers face real uncertainty about if and how they will be able to continue to work in theatre. 70% of people who work in theatre and performance in the UK are freelance or self-employed, and it’s for this workforce, in all its diversity and complexity, that the impact of the current situation is most acute.

During these past weeks we have had conversations with many of you to understand your needs and the ways you have been affected. We are writing to express our support for you, and to lay out some practical steps we are taking to improve the situation based on these conversations.

As well as exploring ways of producing work with freelancers during lockdown, and using this time to develop new projects with freelancers for the future, we are also are working together to coordinate our response to the government, to articulate clearly what we can offer and what we need.

Most urgently, we are calling for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing, for all self-employed workers, and in the specific case of theatre and performance workers, until theatres are able to safely reopen. We also want to see criteria removed from the scheme which are stopping legitimate and much-needed claims.

Some of you are already involved in these conversations. We welcome your voices and need to hear from more of you in the conversations to come. Your unique networks, skillsets, perspectives, and ideas are vital to the entire sector, and we need to work with you in our response to this crisis.

Each of the organisations who’ve signed this letter are committed to reaching out to their family of self-employed and freelance theatre makers; listening to how this is affecting your work and lives, and to your needs and ideas for the future.

More than that, we want to facilitate the establishment of a national task force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. The purpose of the task force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It would create ongoing points of connection between freelancers and organisations, and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come. To help establish the task force, each of the organisations signing this letter will support a freelancer to join the group, ensuring they are paid for their time.

We want to offer a message of hope and solidarity. Our well-practised ability to work together, to form connections, and build relationships will help us through this. One day, hopefully soon, we will all be able to meet together, as people have done for centuries, in a shared space, for a shared experience. In the meantime, we remain committed to working for you and with you towards a sustainable future for theatre and performance.

 

Signed,

Access All Areas Graeae Soho Theatre
Action For Children’s Arts Hall For Cornwall Spare Tyre
Activate Performing Arts Headlong Spin Arts
Actors Touring Company Hijinx Stellar Quines
Akademi HOME Stephen Joseph Theatre
ArtsAdmin Improbable Strike A Light
Barbican Theatre Plymouth In Good Company Studio Wayne McGregor
Battersea Arts Centre Jermyn Street Theatre Taking Flight Theatre
Belarus Free Theatre Jerwood Arts Talawa Theatre Company
Belgrade Theatre Kiln Theatre Tangled Feet
Birmingham Repertory Theatre Knee High Tara Arts
Boundless Theatre Leeds Playhouse The Almeida Theatre
Brighton Festival Leicester Curve The Bush Theatre
Bristol Old Vic Little Angel Theatre The Cockpit
Brixton House Mercury Theatre The National Theatre
Candoco Mimbre The New Wolsey Theatre
Cast Miracle Theatre The Royal Court Theatre
Chichester Festival Theatre National Dance Company Wales The Royal Shakespeare Company
China Plate National Theatre of Scotland The Yard
Chinese Arts Now National Theatre Wales Theatre Bristol + Kiota
Citz Glasgow National Youth Theatre of Great Britain Theatre Centre
Clean Break Northern Stage Theatre Peckham
Company of Others Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Rites
Complicite Octagon, Bolton Theatre Royal Plymouth
Contact One Dance UK Theatre Royal Stratford East
Curatin Call Online Oxford Playhouse Tiata Fahodzi
Curious Directive Sophie Motley Turtle Key
Dance Base Paines Plough Unfolding Theatre
Dance Umbrella Pleasance Theatre Unicorn theatre
Derby Theatre Polka Theatre Unlimited
Diverse City Ramps on the Moon Wales Millennium Centre
Doncopolitan Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Wassail Theatre
Donmar Warehouse Rose Theatre Kingston Wise Children
Eden Court Highlands Royal & Derngate Yellow Earth
English Touring Theatre Rubicon Dance 1927
Farnham Maltings Sadler’s Wells
Fio Separate Doors
Frozen Light Theatre Shakespeare’s Globe
Fuel Sheffield Theatres
Gate Theatre Smart Entertainment