Freelancers in the Dark: The Economic, Cultural, and Social Impact of Covid-19 on UK Theatre Workers Final Report

Holly Maples*, Rosemary Klich, Joshua Edelman, Kurt Taroff, Ali FitzGibbon, James Rowson, Laura Harris, Alexandra Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

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Abstract

This report captures an extraordinary moment in time for the UK theatre industry. However, as we discovered, it also reveals the pre-existing issues found within the industry that left the UK theatre sector vulnerable to devastating consequences for theatre workers lives and livelihoods during Covid-19. As we have shown, those consequences greatly impacted all areas of the UK theatre industry and its freelance theatre workforce. When this project was conceived in the Spring of 2020, we had no idea that by March 2022, we would still be suffering sector uncertainty caused by wave after wave of Covid-19 variants. This report is an archive of sorts, mapping out the evolution of UK freelance theatre workers’ experiences over a 2-year period beginning in February 2020. Experiences of volatility, struggle, opportunity, resilience, community, activism, and creativity are all to be found in the lived realities of the freelance theatre workforce documented in these pages. In the end, this is not solely a research study, but a co-created testament of how the pandemic shone a light on the hopes and fears of the theatre workforce (both freelance and organisations) at a moment in time where radical change was seen as possible in the midst of, arguably, the most long-term crisis to hit the UK theatre industry since the English Civil War in the 17th century. Through the honesty and generosity of our research participants, we were able to offer a reflection and analysis of all that makes the UK theatre industry to me, and the freelancers who occupy 88% of its workforce, endless sources of resilience, creative thinking, and collective support.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2022

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