Friday, 4 February 2011


Issue: Is it fair to ask people to work for free?

Convener(s): Kelly Lovelady

Participants: Rebecca Manson Jones
Conor Short
Tom Mansfield
Sarah Corbett
Emma Adams
Gabrielle Beasley
Louie Whitemore
Alex Brown
Deborah Paige
Jennifer Tan
Antonio Ferrara

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

• Unpaid work implicitly relative to career stage and nature of ensemble

• Not so much a decision as a realism and an urgent practicality

• Semantic problem exists in defining amateurs and professionals, neither finances nor quality are necessarily the differentiating factor

Industry Standards
• How must the style of direction / leadership / company structure adapt?
o Increased sharing of trust and confidence may require more directorial compromise in collaborations
o New model of intellectual property comes into play in devising and directing
o Us-and-them mentality between performers and directors requires new consideration
o Work without pay needs to be universal throughout the organizational structure

• How do we retain the same work ethos and level of commitment, can we secure contractual agreements?
o Clarify why the project’s important regardless of money
o Insist that no compromise will be made on quality
o Refer to Equity Fringe Agreement and/or various Volunteer Agreements

• The Fringe model is broken and needs restructuring
o Small companies are not trying to emulate the West End
o Fringe theatre succeeds according to different criteria
o Organizations which began as and continue to subscribe to the spirit of student collectives can behave professionally; applying organizational structure, mission statement, and equity code and expectations within an autonomous financial setting

• Can the performing arts be considered according to the practice and principles of volunteering? Is performance a service?

Work for free, but not for nothing
• Most artists have made a life choice and are not motivated by money so elimination of this factor doesn’t have to be automatically negative

• Exchange incentives might include
o Exposure to media and audience
o Company affiliation
o Job title or specialized role
o Ethical internships
o Corporate or further training
o Shareholder infrastructure
o Access to career moves
o Interim work and artistic engagement
o Training in professional etiquette
o Peer mentorship
o Pooling of resources
o Long-term company development
o Beer and friendship

• Companies must offer complete transparency through open access to all financial data

• Artists might be potentially reluctant to commit to unpaid work based on past experiences
o Underling treatment
o Attraction of insecure people
o Exploitation by the pilot
o Inter|viewing needs to be a decision-making process on equal footing

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