Freelance theatre technicians, directors, musicians and actors are sharing their fears about the coming months, in anticipation of closures.
It comes as shadow culture secretary Tracy Brabin announces she will push government for a universal basic income guarantee that includes freelancers and the self employed.
Hello— Tracy Brabin MP \uD83C\uDF39 (@TracyBrabin) March 13, 2020
Do you earn a living in #sport or #creativeindustries?
Is your work affected by #CoronaOutbreak?
Would you be happy to share your concerns with me so I can make a dossier to give to govt who I think don’t understand precarious nature of #selfemployment
Gerald McDermott said: “I’m a freelance theatre technician. I can’t work from home and with events being cancelled I have no other source of income. If that lasts more than four to five weeks then I won’t be able to pay my rent.”
Conductor Holly Mathieson also stressed the challenges for a range of roles in the performing arts, including “musicians in the pit, all of the technical and stage crew who are also freelance, and the management teams”, adding that small arts agencies are also facing lost commissions.
Director David Mercatali also said he felt his income for the foreseeable future was “precarious”.
“The issue is that we won’t need to be sick to not be able to work. Many of us don’t earn weekly/monthly money we earn one off fees for work. If those events get cancelled our contracts will probably be voided (or just not paid). And no other work on the horizon,” he said.
Fellow director Thomas Hescott said he is already seeing threats to all but one of his current income streams.
“If the things I work on do get shut down I won’t be paid – I’m not under contract so I will simply not be booked. Places that owe me money are unlikely to push through payments as freelance invoices will be at the bottom of the pile.”
Meanwhile, actor Lucy Briers expressed some of the difficulties faced by performers in the current circumstances.
She said: “Any of us working are very conflicted. We’re earning but also upping our risk of infection. However once public buildings are closed, which they will be, all actors will really struggle. My day job will also be unavailable. Please ensure the govt help us.”
A petition calling on the government to include the self employed in statutory sick pay during the coronavirus outbreak has been signed by more than 400,000 people.