We work as PR and marketing professionals in the performing arts and recognise that we are one interdependent group among many in our industry alongside performers, technicians, writers, theatremakers, directors, photographers, designers, choreographers and more.
We stand in solidarity with all in the industry at this time. Without artists, companies and venues, our work doesn’t exist. We are also keen to use our skills to amplify the voices of others.
We support those who are contributing to government and industry consultations about the future of the sector, but are concerned that in the consultation exercises so far, the voices of communications professionals, particularly those who work freelance, have not been heard.
Many of us who are supported by the Self Employment Income Support Scheme will not be able to continue our work when it ends, which could be as soon as August. Those of us who are employers will be severely impacted by the tapering and eventual end of the furlough scheme in October, which many of us are relying on to pay our teams. And some of us whose businesses are newer or fall on the other side of the financial limit have never been eligible for any support. Along with everyone else, we have been badly hit by closures and it will take a long time for our livelihoods to recover.
Our work is specialist and bespoke and we have great knowledge of (and passion for), the performance work we are trusted to promote. In common with many in the industry, the work we do has the potential to be more lucrative in other sectors, but we have built our careers and businesses around the arts over many years. We are also part of an infrastructure that supports artists and enables tickets to be sold. We call on the theatre, dance and performing arts industries to acknowledge us as collaborators and include our voices in lobbying efforts and consultation exercises, and we offer our skills in making them a success.
Anna Goodman, Abstrakt Publicity, Arabella Neville-Rolfe, ANRPR; Ariane Oiticica, Unavoidable PR; Chloé Nelkin, Chloé Nelkin Consulting; Claire Bowdler Arts Marketing; Clióna Roberts, CRPR; The Corner Shop PR; David Burns, David Burns PR; Dawn Farrow, Duncan Clarke, Duncan Clarke PR; Emma Ferrier, Act One PR; Flick Morris, Flick Morris PR; Gaby Jerrard, Gaby Jerrard PR; Helen Annetts, Helen Fussell, Judy Lipsey, Katherine Camps Kilgour, Bright Media; Kevin Wilson, Kevin Wilson Public Relations; Laura Horton; Lucy White, Lucy White Arts Marketing; Madelaine Bennett; Martha Oakes; Matthew Shelley; Michael Eppy, Michael Eppy PR; Mobius Industries; Nancy Poole; Robert James; Sharon Kean, Keanlanyon; Sharon McHendry; Simon Harper, Storytelling PR; Sue Lancashire; Susie Safavi, Safavi PR; Victoria Shead; Wendy Niblock; Will Wood, Multitude Media
In 2000, when I was 21 years old and halfway through my drama school training at the Bridge Theatre Training Company, I ran out of money. This was before government student loans were available for drama schools. I took another weekend job and started writing letters to famous British actors asking for sponsorship. I wrote more than 50 letters. It wasn’t easy. This was before the internet was quite the beast it is now, so I had to search for each individual agent’s address in Spotlight books.
Most didn’t respond, some were automatic responses from their secretaries or PAs. I received a beautifully handwritten ink-penned letter from Alec Guinness (he wrote the date in roman numerals), and a charming note from Richard Briers telling me that unfortunately he couldn’t help, but here was £20 for all the postage I must have spent in the process.
And then I got a letter from Ian Holm with a cheque for £1,000 to help go towards the rest of my training. Suddenly it was all worth it.
Of course I wrote a thank you letter back, but I always planned to let him know that 20 years later I was still in the business. I suppose I never felt I had ‘made it’ enough for it to be ‘impressive’. I regret that today.
I’m sorry I never let him know how much he helped me, that his donation didn’t go to waste, that I didn’t give up, as so many drama school students do. RIP Sir Ian Holm. And thank you, you utter legend.
“One of the things the Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated is the extent to which poorly paid artists use their own time and limited resources to help artists less fortunate than themselves.” This has been highlighted very clearly during the crisis. I work in the costume sector and I’ve seen many friends and colleagues making scrubs for the NHS, a supposedly government-funded healthcare system that we all contribute towards, yet many of them have not benefited from government support. They’ve given their skills, expertise and time and have been overlooked. All too often the arts are seen as “not a real career”. Fair wages and fair working hours would go a long way to changing that opinion.
I believe discussions of fair pay will never get any further than empty promises and further discussions. Those at the top of the pay scale will not relinquish their income to those at the bottom of the scale – this is true in any industry. The only way it will happen is if those discussions lead to legislation.
However, I also believe legislation would come with as many problems as solutions, if not more.
What is The Stage doing? Can you not see what is happening to the UK leisure and theatre-going economy? You need to put pressure on the government to lift the lockdown in it’s entirety, and abandon idiotic social-distancing rules. All I see is articles criticising the government and asking for handouts.
You need to be more assertive and aggressive in your approach to get theatres open and up and running. Are you scared of being called heartless? You need to fight to get theatres open and functioning normally. Stop accepting the flawed policy. Stop your unquestioning compliance of social distancing. People’s livelihoods and lives are at stake, not to mention the cultural impact. People have been going to the theatre for centuries, millennia, even.
You are not even questioning the doctrine of social distancing and lockdown. If people don’t want to go to the theatre, then let them decide for themselves. You need to change your approach. The long-term implications of the lockdown are far worse than the short-term impacts had the lockdown not happened.