Post written by: Erin Walcon
We recently co-hosted a pair of Practitioner Call-Out Days for SW-based folks who work with children & young people in the arts. This was a collaboration with Barbican Plymouth, MED Theatre, Exeter Northcott, Soapbox Children’s Theatre, and Doorstep.
Both of these Call-Out events booked up immediately – with waiting lists for both, and both were attended by such an amazing crew of local freelancers.
For me, it was inspiring to gather with fellow pracitioners and share practice… we left with a rich array of new games, exercises, choreographic tricks, evaluation models. It was also so helpful to be able to gather with other organisations who share some of the same challenges & ethos.
Especially right now, as we’re all working our NPO applications, it feels particularly important to remember to honour and represent regional freelancer voices. And it was a stark reminder that smaller grassroots organisations are working with tiny teams of people – we are the ones in the room leading the sessions and the ones tap-tapping away on laptops at 11pm the same night, trying to get our word-count down in our grant applications and balance our budgets. This is hard but rewarding work. We don’t have consultants or fundraising teams… we are the ones doing the real work, and also the ones applying to try and sustain this work, economically and strategically. It was so helpful to be able to talk to other small grassroots orgs in the same boat.
But being a freelancer? That’s a whole other kind of challenge. Our SW freelance teaching artists manage to build careers in the most skeletal of infrastructures. I so valued hearing the voices of those who have managed to do this for decades – building reputations out of hard graft, consistency, and determination.
It was great watching peer learning and mentorship in action – those new to the industry or just starting out got a chance to ask questions of those more experienced. This kind of exchange is so needed.
What I think is important is that there is direct action and real results from these kinds of gathering events… that people walk away with new connections, or offers of work, or opportunities that they couldn’t have had otherwise.
We’re hoping to host more of these events – regularly, and to really listen to the voices of our regional freelancers about what’s needed, what’s missing, what would best support them.
This means sharing information about payment rates & progression routes, making entry points visible and inviting, and ensuring that there are regular opportunities for shared exchange and training.
We want our regional Teaching Artists and practitioners to know that our door is always open – you can always reach out. Let us know what’s needed… we’re listening. We see you.