Freelance theatre workers are the lifeblood of theatre. The task force aims to strengthen their influence as we respond to and recover from the Covid-19 crisis in the performing arts sector.

Aims of the Freelance Task Force

The aim of the Freelance Task Force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It will create ongoing points of connection between freelancers, organisations, funders and government and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come about how we manage the response to and recovery from the Covid-19 crisis in the performing arts sector.

Join the conversation

If you're a freelancer in the performing arts and you want to be involved, sign up to our distribution list.

HOW the freelance task force works

THE NATIONAL FREELANCE TASK FORCE

Fuel initiated the Freelance Task Force along with over 100 sponsors. The task force is made up of over 160 freelancers. The members of the taskforce inherited no existing structure or guidance as to how we may operate and it has taken time to find ways of communicating and working with one another.

On Wednesday 15 July 2020, the Task Force held a four-hour open space meeting (facilitated by Improbable) to decide what we wanted to work on and what we could achieve together. Read the Collected Reports (PDF) from that meeting.

Twitter: @FreelanceTForce
Email: freelancertaskforce@gmail.com

The RSC task force members

We have two representatives on the Freelance Task Force, who hold weekly RSC meetings as well as working on the national task force. Our two representatives are: 

  • Leigh Toney - a director who worked on our Summer 2019 Royal Shakespeare Theatre Season and Tour, as Associate Director on Measure for Measure and Assistant Director on The Taming of the Shrew @LeighToneyLeigh
  • Leo Wan - an actor who worked on our Summer 2019 Royal Shakespeare Theatre Season and Tour, as Oliver in As You Like It and Widower in The Taming of the Shrew @leomarcuswan

You can go to the Times Radio website to hear Leo talking about the Freelance Task Force in an interview from 10 August 2020.

Contact Leigh and Leo via email on leo.leigh.taskforce@gmail.com.

Leigh Toney in a red top, headshot
Associate Director Leigh Toney

Weekly forums

We are holding weekly forums on Zoom and anyone is welcome. We use the meetings to give updates, take questions from the freelance community, and interrogate present questions. Here are the notes and summaries from our previous forums:

If you require these notes in a different format, please contact Leo and Leigh.

Drop In and 1-1s

We also hold informal drop in sessions. This is an opportunity to have a cuppa, a rant, chat through a creative idea - whatever you fancy. If the Forum meetings aren’t the right format for you this is a more informal chance to join the conversation.

These will happen at different times to make sure they can be accessible to as many people as possible. Sign up to our distribution list for up to date information.

If you want to talk about something more personal or specific to you, please get in touch at leo.leigh.taskforce@gmail.com.

man standing wearing a grey suit and reading a newspaper, on stage
Leo Wan as Oliver in our 2019 production of As You Like It, directed by Kimberley Sykes, with set designed by Stephen Brimson Lewis and costumes and lighting by Bretta Gerecke
Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC Browse and license our images

Background

On 21 May 2020, the RSC, along with more than 110 other performing arts organisations, including producing companies and venues, jointly signed an open letter to theatre and performance makers in support of the freelancers who make up a large and vital part of the ecology of the performance sector.

The letter included the intention to establish a Freelance Task Force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. Each organisation signing up to the letter committed to recruiting and paying a freelancer for one day a week throughout June, July and August to join the Freelance Task Force (13 days work). 

Recruiting for the freelance task force

Every organisation has worked in different ways to identify and engage the freelancer they are sponsoring to be part of the Task Force. The Task Force aims to ensure good representation across the following areas:

  • Geography
  • Discipline/role – performance, makers, technicians, stage management, support roles
  • Diversity – protected characteristics and also class and immigration status
  • Age/experience range

We didn't open-up recruitment to every freelance artist we have ever worked with; we felt a particular responsibility to those who had been affected by our actions in response to Covid-19.

We consulted with a group of our freelancers about recruitment and they wanted there to be a democratic voting system for the role, as the Task Force representative would be representing them and other self-employed colleagues. We therefore worked through the following recruitment process.

  1. We sent out information about the Task Force rep role to the 242 freelancers who had been expecting to work with the RSC in 2020.
  2. We asked them to self-nominate if they were interested in the role, by emailing us to say they wanted to be considered.
  3. We also asked freelance colleagues to nominate themselves to act as Chair for a meeting at which candidates would present their case to other freelance colleagues with an opportunity for questions.
  4. 18 freelancers put their names forward for consideration as the Task Force representative.
  5. All 242 freelancers were invited to a meeting on 8 June. Each of the 18 candidates talked about why they wanted to take on the role and what they hoped to achieve. The meeting was recorded and captioned and sent to our freelancer community – both those who had attended and those who hadn't. BSL interpretation was available at the meeting.
  6. Voting for candidates opened at 7pm on Tuesday 9 June and closed at 7pm on Wednesday 10 June - 112 votes were cast out of a possible 242.
  7. We announced, on 11 June, that the Freelance Task Force Representative sponsored by the RSC is a job share partnership between Leigh and Leo.

Relationship to the RSC

  • Freelance Task Force members aren't expected to represent the RSC or speak on our behalf, nor are they expected to undertake any other duties on behalf of the RSC.
  • Freelance Task Force members will operate at arm’s length, accountable to the self-employed community that they are part of. We will offer admin support to the Task Force representative if required.
  • We hope that each Freelance Task Force member will use this opportunity to inform and influence their Sponsor Organisation (us included), and to draw on our support and networks should they need to.
  • We expect the Freelance Task Force member to work in line with RSC policies.

Remuneration

Each Freelance Task Force member (or job share partnership) will be paid for a total of 13 days work i.e. one day a week throughout June, July and August. For the RSC the daily rate of pay will be £200. We don't expect that there will be any further expenses.