The Three Counties Freelancers Season in Spring 2021 will offer audiences a rich range of locally made shows and digital experiences to enjoy, while giving a much-needed platform to the region’s freelance creatives
70% of the UK theatre workforce are freelancers, an estimated 296,000 jobs, playing a vital role in an industry that annually contributes over £7billion to the UK economy. Freelancers in the arts have been disproportionally hit by the Coronavirus outbreak and often find they are ineligible for the financial support offered. Watford Palace Theatre has secured Culture Recovery Funding support to help get local freelancers back into work.
In October Watford Palace Theatre were delighted to announce they had successfully received support from the Culture Recovery Fund. This will enable the venue to re-open their doors to the local community safely and start to bring their cultural offering back to the centre of Watford. After careful consideration and consultation, the venue has devised the Three Counties Freelancers Season as an ideal opportunity to serve local audiences and support local artists at the same time. To create a season that is vibrant and varied, applications are sought from all different disciplines.
Watford Palace are especially keen to support artists who can help them serve their immediate community, by appealing to four target audiences:
1. Theatre for Everyone
However you make it happen, we want our audiences to have a great night out for a reasonable price. We want great diverse theatre that is great entertainment! We want to draw in the widest possible community, not just the traditional white middle class theatregoers.
2. Fun for the Family
Watford has a growing and diverse demographic of families with children under 5. We’re looking for beautiful, popular and engaging experiences to ignite a lifelong love of theatre in our town’s under-fives – with titles or ideas which appeal to their parents, so they book tickets.
3. Shared Experience
Our largest demographic in Watford is young professionals between 25 and 39. They want exciting ways to socialize, and experiences they can’t get from watching a box set on Netflix (other subscription services are available). We actively encourage you to offer innovative collective experiences. They do not have to be in a traditional theatre setting…or any physical /real world setting at all, it just must be exciting!
4. Young People in Schools
Schools audiences can be a vital gateway to live theatre – even years later, an audience member can be drawn to book for a set text they know well from their schooldays. We’re looking for bold, and brilliant theatrical reinventions of texts from the syllabus, either for staging in our theatre or as small scale touring into schools.
In June 2020 the Big Freelancers Survey conducted by Stage Directors UK, Freelancers Make Theatre Work and Curtain Call revealed that 36% of the freelance workforce in the performing arts received no support from the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme or Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. These findings become even more worrying when it comes to inclusivity and diversity. For instance, early career workers, who are the most ethnically diverse group questioned, reported 92% of recent graduates are not eligible for either scheme. Freelancers make up 86% of all people of colour employed by NPOS. To make the application process accessible to as many people as possible, a wide range of formats including video and audio are being welcomed.
Artistic Director and Chief Executive Brigid Larmour said, “We all know that the pandemic has been devastating for freelancers in our region, so we decided to do something about it. Now.
“For over a decade the Watford Palace business model has involved sharing our resources in partnership working with freelance creatives, for example choreographers Kate Flatt and Divya Kasturi, independent companies like Scamp, nabokov, Wizard Presents and Little Pieces of Gold, as well as our Creative Associate NPO companies like Rifco (resident with us) and tiata fahodzi.
“We’re delighted to have secured seed money from the Culture Recovery Fund to launch this pilot project bringing freelancers and communities together, inviting artists to reflect on ways to engage with some of the specific audiences we need to reach. We’re focussing on sustainability, on projects we believe can sustain a longer life beyond our theatre, and we’ll be supporting artists and companies to help secure that future life by offering filming services, road testing the effectiveness of marketing initiatives, and brokering relationships with other theatres. One of the few upsides about the Covid crisis has been increased communication between geographically separate organisations, through zoom, and for us that will be an exciting part of the legacy of this time.”
Applications are welcomed in a range of formats (written/video/audio/voice note) to make it as easy as possible for all kinds of people to suggest their ideas. The deadline for applications is midnight on the 18th November 2020, and further information for interested parties can be found on the Watford Palace Theatre website here: https://watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk/news/three-counties-freelance-season/
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