The Free Artist?
Research and Consultation Project
Since its foundation in 2002, Dance Research Studio (DRS) has constantly sought to support and promote inclusive practice, artistic ambition, risk taking, collaboration, environmental responsibility and bold leadership. The organisation is part of a national ecology of UK smaller arts organisations that offer flexible off and online access and resources to mainly freelance, innovative artists who often work across disciplines. This community takes risks, generates new strategies and finds ways of working that are relevant to many different and diverse communities; traditionally it feeds mainstream culture with fresh talent and ideas, often without due recognition.
DRS will continue to offer vital support to the independent performing arts community, who are primarily freelance practitioners identified as economically very vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis (and beyond). Chaired by Artistic Director Jacky Lansley, DRS had a dialogue with 12 artists through online group meetings and shared writing. Participants were asked to reflect on issues they face as freelance, independent artists, concerning: identity, visibility, professional context and economic stability – and how organisations, including DRS, could expand support and contribute to positive change. See creative outcomes from this project, including a short documentary film and artists’ writings, on this page.
“Sometimes it’s not the size of the job, or the project, it’s how it makes you feel that’s more important, and this offer made me feel included in a discussion that was becoming the real topic of the day – what does it mean to be a freelancer? … The pandemic has taken much from us, but it has also offered something valuable – space to think. ‘The Free Artist?’ project has offered me a formal context to take some of my thinking and reflecting into, and has afforded me the very welcome “obligation” to give form to thought, doubts and sensations, which has been invaluable for me as I navigate this complex time.” – Susan Kempster, in Freelancers Make Theatre Work
“I loved seeing the result of our cherished conversations and was moved and motivated to see The Speaker Dancer online programme snippets. DRS constantly defines and redefines work and re-engages the artist with a self expression and improved self-esteem.” – Lucy Tuck