The Stage – News – Coronavirus: Dancers demand more freelance employment in post-Covid industry

Dance organisations are being urged to offer more opportunities to freelance artists as a way of helping the sector get back to work following coronavirus.

On behalf of freelance dancers, Equity’s dance committee is asking national portfolio organisations to show how they intend to support the art form’s large self-employed workforce, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.

A letter to Arts Council England’s 64 dance NPOs, which include major venues such as Sadler’s Wells and companies including Rambert and Phoenix Dance Theatre, calls on them to “provide reassurance and transparency” on a number of areas such as furthering diversity and developing “more sustainable practices” around working with freelancers.

Among their requests are longer-term engagements and projects lasting more than a year, as well as offering residencies for freelancers.

The letter also asks NPOs to commit to putting freelancers on their boards to ensure their voices are heard “in a meaningful way across the country”.

The committee raises the issue of health and safety for dancers rehearsing and performing, in addition to asking organisations to share how Covid-19 testing will be carried out.

It suggests NPOs could use their resources to sustain dancers while they are unable to work, with access to safe and affordable training and dance spaces as well as support for recent graduates.

“As we now traverse the DCMS roadmap for the UK arts to reopen, we think it is key that freelancers continue to be heard and supported by our national funding bodies and NPO organisations,” the letter says.

Nick Keegan, Equity’s dance councillor, said he hoped the letter would start “vital conversations” with the industry, and added: “We need practical and collaborative solutions to get support and opportunity to freelancers and we need to hold on to the vision of a fairer, more inclusive industry, with more sustainable employment for freelance artists.”

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