Fifty freelancers who will shape the future of creative employment in the capital announced

Fuel Theatre

Fifty freelancers who will shape the future of creative employment in the capital announced

Fifty performing arts freelancers have been appointed to an initiative to improve conditions for Londoners working in the creative sector through a programme funded by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

They join Creative Freelancers: Shaping London’s Recovery, a City Hall research project, supporting the future of freelancing in the capital. It will provide immediate employment for the cohort while they work with partner organisations to help remove the inequalities facing creative freelancers, who have been hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 2020, up to 60% of the city’s freelancers have lost all their income. This loss affected a broad range of roles across the performing arts sector. The appointed freelancers represent this breadth and the diversity of London’s workforce.

The cohort has been appointed following a call out in May and an extensive recruitment process. To further their research and foster links between the freelance community and London’s leading creative and cultural organisations, each freelancer has been matched with a Partner Organisation. Together they will collaborate on how to improve working practices and opportunities.

Supported by the Mayor of London, the programme aims to feed into the work to improve job creation and retention for freelancers, including the development of a new Freelancers’ Charter and take part in advocacy and lobbying.

Championing the programme, Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries said: “London is a world centre for culture and the creative industries and our success is powered by creative freelancers who make up nearly half of the workforce. We know that culture will drive our recovery, so it’s more important than ever that we invest and support freelancers now.  This programme places creatives in the driving seat as we all work to re-set how we value and support freelancers as the country reopens.”

The freelancers and their organisations are:

Seifeidin Abdel Salam            Battersea Arts Centre

Emily Beecher                 Theatre Centre

Shaniqua Benjamin             Boundless Theatre

Laura Caldow                Little Angel Theatre

Jessica Carter                 Vital Xposure

Emma Clark                 Actors Touring Company

Emily Collins                 Old Diorama Arts Centre

Rhys Cook aka Oberon White        The Yard Theatre

Natasha Davis                 Barbican Centre

Stefano Di Renzo             VAULT Festival

Sara Doctors                  WeMakeEvents

Eleesha Drennan              The Place

Carole Edrich                 Paddington Development Trust

Elles Elliott                Raw Material Music and Media

Tanja Erhart                Spare Tyre

Richard Evans                 Tamasha Theatre Company

Sarah Farnsley                Siobhan Davies Dance

Alex Fernandes                Headlong Theatre Limited

Jonathan Glew                Camden People’s Theatre

Fauzia Habib                 Serious

Ali Hunter                 The Old Vic

Tash Hyman                 National Theatre

Caroline Jeyaratnam-Joyner        A New Direction

Chloe Kennedy                  Turtle Key Arts

Anne Langford                 Stratford Circus

Nathalie Alison Layton-McIntosh        Roundhouse

Gael Le Cornec                 LIFT

Del Mak                 Akademi

Sarah Meadows             Parents and Carers in Performing Arts

Cole Morrison                Sound and Music

Olivia Munk                 Turtle Key Arts

Aston New                 Talawa Theatre Company

Seeta Patel                Royal Opera House

Mary Paterson                Serpentine

Joanna Pidcock                 Headlong Theatre Limited

Sarah Poekert                 artsdepot Ltd

Megan Prescott                 Polka Theatre

Nancy May Roberts            Rambert

Cory Shipp                 National Youth Theatre of Great Britain

Lauren Silver                 Young Vic Theatre

Kunal Singhal                 UK Music

Beth Sitek                 Fitzrovia Noir CIC

PJ Stanley                 Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Hannah Tookey                Lyric Hammersmith Theatre

Shamira Turner                Bush Theatre

Eve Veglio-White            Sadler’s Wells

Krista Vuori                 Theatre Royal Stratford East

Beth Watson                 English Touring Opera

George Williamson           Studio Wayne McGregor

Kyley Winfield                 tiata fahodzi

Responding to their appointment, freelance theatre maker, facilitator and clown Lauren Silver said “I am thrilled to be a Cohort member and collaborate with Fuel, the Mayor of London and the team to support our creative community.”

Referring to the ideas she outlined in her application, she added: Due to the detrimental effects of Covid-19, there’s never been a more crucial time to advance proactive and accessible Mental Health support for our creative freelancers, and I am passionate for our industry to be able to make space to focus on just that. 

The Organisations involved are similarly committed and enthused about the huge potential of the programme. Speaking on behalf of #WeMakeEvents, a partner organisation, Simon Prior who is himself a freelance technical director commented:

We’re very excited to be working with such an extraordinary group of people to develop the role of freelance staff in so many aspects of the creative industries. Freelancers carry their skills and experience all around our business, providing fresh inspiration along the way, and they have been sadly neglected during the last eighteen months. It is good to know that the GLA understands their importance and is hoping to provide a more reassuring infrastructure for freelance talent.

Echoing these sentiments from a venue perspective, Head of Theatre and Dance at the Barbican, Toni Racklin added At the Barbican we’re committed to supporting artists and companies who challenge what theatre can be, so we’re thrilled to be part of this important programme to reimagine the industry’s working practices. We’re looking forward to collaborating with our freelancer, seeing and hearing their ideas whilst sharing with them our unique arts centre perspective. We believe that through this new relationship we can positively contribute to the industry’s support and development of our vital freelance ecology.

The Freelance Cohort and Partner Organisations are supported by a freelance Facilitation Team – Jessica Antwi-Boasiako Facilitator, Charlotte Mafham Communication and Administration Coordinator, Marie Wilson Bookkeeper and Miranda Yates Access Manager – as well an Advisory Group of industry experts Jamie Beddard, Lily Einhorn, Lilli Geissendorfer, Ameena Hamid, James Hodgson, Tarek Iskander, Jeanefer Jean-Charles, Jennifer Jackson, Chi-chi Nwanoku and Jo Tyabji.

About the programme: 

Creative freelancers, particularly those in the performing arts, have been hit hard by COVID-19. From the very start of restrictions, up to 60% of freelancers had lost all of their work, and it is estimated that at least 200,000 Londoners have been excluded from any Government support. The pandemic has also highlighted existing inequalities facing creative freelancers – including a lack of security at work, unequal access to freelance opportunities, and a lack of a basic safety net.

This Mayor of London programme will enable this diverse group of freelancers in the culture sector to come together to explore and make recommendations on the future of freelancing. It will support the Mayor’s ambitions to improve working conditions and training, as well as advocating for the statutory changes needed for freelancers.

Creative Freelancers: Shaping London’s Recovery will amplify the voices of the self-employed in the culture sector, giving space for freelancers to shape and demonstrate their role in the recovery of London’s creative and cultural industries, as well as in wider civic spaces.

How will it work?

The Freelance Cohort and their Partner Organisations will develop new plans to improve working conditions and job and training support for freelancers. They will collaborate in focused working groups during this six-month research project, supported by the Facilitation team. The cohort will feed into the work to improve job creation and retention for freelancers, including the development of a new Freelancers’ Charter and take part in advocacy and lobbying.

The programme builds on the first national Freelance Task Force initiated by Fuel as a pilot in April 2020, in which 150 organisations sponsored 169 freelancers across the country. It builds on the evaluation and recommendations by independent evaluators Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, which highlighted the positive impact of the pilot, its promising potential, and suggested that external funding would improve future work in this area.

Programme Aims

This project will empower creative freelancers in the performing arts sector to make recommendations for London’s recovery from COVID-19 in these distinct areas:

  • Improving job conditions, creation and retention for creative freelancers
  • Advocating for an improved statutory position for creative freelancers
  • Establishing skills and training opportunities for creative freelancers

This programme will support the civic role of creative freelancers in London’s recovery from COVID-19, in policymaking and in delivery.


Enabled by Fuel.

Funded by LEAP, the London Economic Action Partnership, and supported by the Mayor of London. The LEAP brings entrepreneurs and businesses together with the Mayoralty and London Councils to identify strategic actions to support and lead economic growth and job creation in the capital.