March for the Arts has launched their Freelance Working Agreement to help professionals in Liverpool in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The small arts collective want to ensure the arts industry moves away from inconsistent standards, bad practices and unstable working conditions.

The free to use cross sector directory will outline best practice and standards on hiring, contracts, support, communication, diversity and accessibility.

The collective which is funded by Arts Council England want the working document to come from conversations and suggestions from the city’s arts community.

Gemma Dunne, Co-Founder of March for the Arts, says there has been silence for a long time between organisations and freelancers.

“As freelancers and organisations are so busy there is never time for these conversations.

“What the pandemic has highlighted is it’s a precarious relationship between organisations and freelancers as they are both completely interdependent on each other.

“In regard to these kinds of practices, the pandemic has given us a chance to actually work on them.”

freelance working agreement- provided by march for the arts
Freelance Working Agreement & Directory. Image by March for the Arts

The pandemic has been particularly difficult for freelancers and the self-employed who make up 50% of the creative industry workforce.

In the recent budget announcement a fourth round of grants have been made available for the self-employed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

However, Ms Dunne fears this could be too late for many in the industry.

“People have been so amazing at adapting as things moved online, but you can’t do shows, you can’t do festivals, it’s all gone.

“The Cultural Recovery Fund was late in delivery for many organisations and many freelancers had to move out the industry as they didn’t get support,” she said.

Through the Freelance Working Agreement they hope to rebuild the arts in Liverpool and the North West with the deadline for the first draft of the agreement set for the end of May.

They recently elected a committee of individuals and organisations to represent all of the arts in Liverpool.

“It was important for us that the committee was completely diverse; diverse within the arts, but also diverse across the region as we are representing six councils,” said Ms Dunne.

march for the arts freelance committee- provided by march for the arts
March for the Arts Freelance Working Agreement Committee. Image by March for the Arts

The organisations involved in the project include Collective Encounters, The Studio, Luma Creations, Homotopia, Ugly Bucket, The Everyman and Playhouse and The Bluecoat.

Also, the committee is made up of freelancers’ Thom Isom, Lisa Buckby, Adiam Solomon, Tom Glynn, Curtis Watt, Tessa Buddle and the chairwoman Grace Goulding.

Ms Goulding, an award-winning international Movement Director and Choreographer, said:

“As we strive towards better practice, communication and equal opportunity between organisations, institutions and freelancers, it is my hope we can also pave the way for the next generation and bolster the eco system of the creative industries across the North West.”

Although the committee has been carefully selected for their knowledge and passion, March for the Arts urge all to share their experiences and ideas.

“We recognise the ecology of the arts and want to bring together the creative industries as a community within the region.

“If someone has an opinion, then please do share what that is in one of the drop-in sessions.

“Your voice will be heard and for me that’s so important at a time when we fear that they aren’t,” Ms Dunne finished.

Anyone can join the drop in sessions every Tuesday by signing up here.

Everyone is also invited to join weekly specialist meetings every Thursday, the first of which is on Thursday 11 at 3pm.

For more information about the Freelance Working Agreement, click here.

 

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