Zora King represents the North West on the National Freelance Taskforce. Through her work, she is looking at the needs of artistic practitioners within the first 5 years of their careers.

As a recent university graduate, emerging into the sector during COVID-19, I have experienced various challenges to do with funding and a lack of understanding surrounding financial support for freelancers.  

I understand the complications of not being eligible to apply for self-employment support funds and grants in response to COVID-19. However, this does not make it any less frustrating!  

I can imagine that many others in similar situations feel the same which is why it is SO important to represent and be heard. Just because we haven’t been in the sector for 30 years does NOT mean that we are any less relevant or have less right to be involved in the conversations and considerations in the changes made to our sector.  

Since being appointed by Contact for the Freelance Task Force to represent early career practitioners, those unable to access other forms of industry or government support in the North-West, there have been many insightful meetings, conversations and proposals!  

On Friday 19 June, the first Task Force meeting took place where over 150 representatives contributed their ideas, concerns and motivations for joining and coming together.  

Sub-groups are being made within the Task Force aiming to tackle a huge range of incredibly important issues across the sector, ensuring that freelance artists and practitioners are having the opportunity to be represented and have their voices heard.   

There have been meetings with SOLT/UK Theatre, Equity and Arts Council England which have all been positive and informative 

Many questions and issues have been raised regarding support and additional funding, what the sector will look like post COVID-19, and many more.   

Questions I raised in particular with Arts Council England was: 

  • What can we do for emerging artists who are unlikely to have strong enough applications for emergency funding? 
  • How can you ensure that there will be enough support for early career freelancers coming into the industry? If there is not the support it’s unlikely that graduates, emerging artists and early career practitioners will engage within the sector and take that leap to begin their careers; and what will the industry look like then?”

I am however, still waiting for a response.  

Weekly Task Force meeting have been arranged, with sub-group meetings happening regularly. Conversations with other campaigns such as ‘Freelancers Make Theatre Work’ are also in motion to ensure real change can me made! 

I have connected with representatives locally and nationally with the intention of working together in creating proposals and aims, and I am also planning the first online consultations of discussions to take place within the next week! 

If you are interested in participating in upcoming discussions or have any thoughts you would like to share, please email zorazeldaking.freelance@gmail.com 

Take care and stay safe!
Zora x 

Background to the Freelance Taskforce

On Thursday 21 May 2020 a group of performing arts organisations, including producing companies and venues, jointly signed a letter in support of the freelancers who make up a large and vital part of the ecology of the performance sector.

The letter had 3 main aims:

• To listen and respond to the needs of freelancers in the performing arts
• To call for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing and until theatres can reopen in earnest
• To establish a Freelance Task Force of self-employed theatre and performance makers.

Each organisation signing up to the letter has committed to paying a freelancer for one day a week throughout June, July and August to join the Freelance Task Force.

We are proud to be a signatory of this open letter to theatre and performance makers, alongside many of our peers across the UK, and we fully support the creation of a #FreelanceTaskForce.

Read our open letter here.