Download title "FTF Producers Survey - One Sheet"
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Download title "FTF Producers Survey"
Download title "FTF Producers Survey - Large Text"
The Producer Report and the Power of Plurality
Blog Post originally written for Producer Gathering
How the producer report came to be
When I was asked to join the Freelance Task Force I had 2 priorities, 1. Relay as much information as possible to the artists connected to my sponsor organisation and 2. Figure out how I could use this time to advocate for a better future for freelance producers, something I had been having small conversations about with various people over the last year. With the FTF, it felt like for the first time, there was a chance to pause and just imagine what ‘could be’.
After seeking out fellow FTF’er and producers Laura Sweeney and Ash Bowmott, we formed a working group and invited any and all producers and self producing artists to join us, eventually making up a group containing June Gamble, Beccy D’Souza, Hannah Stone, Lily Einhorn, Rafia Hussein, Laura Sweeney, Beth Sitek and Sarah Shead and Non-FTF Members Benjamin Monk and Emily Coleman. We discussed stories of burn out, instability and lack of protection for the role, leading us to the question ‘How do we advocate for the role of producer?’ and the creation of The Producers Report.
The Producers Report was created from a survey of 137 producers, while making the survey, we drew on research previously collected by the Producer Gathering Network led by Sally Rose and Xavier D’Souza in 2016 (unreleased) and the ACE funded SOUPing (Some of Us Producers) project led by Emily Coleman, Ruth Dudman and Lucy Moore in 2013. From there, we drew on our own provocations to create a resource showing the conditions we currently work in & the impact producers have on the performance ecology. We believe that our data collection of 137 producers is the biggest contemporary data collection on UK freelance producers.
Next came looking at the data, led by myself, Benjamin and Hannah we compiled a report that threw out some stark figures; 82.60% were earning less than the average UK salary, 73% needed to subsidise producing work with other work/benefits and 82% cited financial instability as the biggest barrier in their development alongside free work culture, lack of early career opportunities and training opportunities. But the biggest thing I took away from it was impact - of the 137 respondents, 2180 projects were delivered over the last three years, supporting 27,553 artists, employing 14,077 creatives and reaching a cumulative audience of 4.06 million. This means that PER PRODUCER they on average support 206 artists, employ 105 creatives and reach 30,323 audience members every 3 years. In my opinion, that sort of impact is something you can’t argue with and that is the basis for our case for change. Imagine what we could do with sustained investment in developing producers?
We published the report toward the end of the FTF time, and purposely didn’t include any recommendations. The reasoning for this was partly because we wanted fellow producers to have the report as soon as possible and use it as a resource, as a way of making the case for themselves, whether that be for funding applications, conversations they were having with industry or in their personal collaborations. We believed it wasn’t up to our small group of producers to decide what to recommend to other producers, but instead to allow these conversations to begin after the FTF. For the working group, there was no pressure to carry on with any of this process post-FTF, and the future steps taken by everyone have all had different approaches.
For myself, this has meant teaming up with Benjamin Monk to facilitate and hold a space, where producers can meet, reflect and essentially co-create the change they want to see that advocates for the role of producer. These meetings are always BSL interpreted, and always co-facilitated by a person who has lived experience of racism. Our wish is that in consistently hosting this space, organic processes of organising and advocacy will emerge outside of this hosted space.
I think these sorts of processes can sometimes be difficult for a group of people who are used to ‘getting shit done’, usually as quickly as possible and often at the expense of themselves. But, I wholly believe in the ideals of ‘process over product’ which puts a huge emphasis on giving everyone agency and participating in a process that may or may not have an outcome. It’s not a fast process, but what’s the point of sprinting ahead if when you finally slow down, there’s still a bunch of people at the starting line? I’m also aware that this way of working is not for everyone, and that’s completely fine. If just 2-3 people bond together to create resources that better producer’s working conditions / well-being, I consider that a positive outcome of the process. Already I’ve seen the beginnings of this happening with the meetings, with producers Caroline Pearce, Nicola Lawton, Kelly Golding, Vicky Graham and Emily Beecher coming together to make toolkit to try and bring the right producers together with the right artists, and to help artists identify what exactly they're looking for so that communication is clear right from the start and a ‘are you a producer’ quiz that may help early career producers define themselves as a producer.
Throughout doing this process, we’ve often been posed with the question ‘but isn’t X’ doing this? Or ‘I’m making ‘X’ resource and I just want to make sure I’m not standing on your toes’. To that my response is always please just go ahead and keep doing it. If I’ve learnt anything from the last year, it’s the power of plurality. The data showed us that resources, wellbeing spaces, training and opportunities are the things that are in dire need for producers. It's unrealistic for any of us to think that one ‘kind’ of scheme or resource is the perfect one size fits all resource for all producers. We all have different tastes, learning and communication styles each of which will be the right or wrong fit for another person. I truly believe that plurality of resource is a positive and desperate need if we are to continue to improve things for freelance producers. We are all working toward the same goal right? We want to make things better for freelance producers. To do that, we need to all do that, as much as possible, together. Let’s create a national network of signposts to opportunities and resource, all being offered in different ways, for different people, in different contexts and foster this positive power of plurality.
By acknowledging together that no one scheme can develop all kinds of producer, we break down ‘first’ culture in our industry and we continue to build the case for sustained investment in producers to our national funders, showing that strategically, we need lots of different types of resource, across the country and we’ve got the data to prove what sort of impact that has. As one of the new producers put it from a group I facilitated recently; ‘We need this mindset of abundance otherwise we just keep gatekeeping from each other.’