Support and advice for freelancers – Alistair Wilkinson


To all freelance phenomenons…

I hope you’re all really well and are staying safe in these hectic times.

Gosh, what a crazy situation we’ve all found ourselves in. Gigs are being cancelled, the industry feels like it’s closing down, and freelancers are panicking about where their next gig – and income – will come from. It’s a sorry sight, and one that fills me with lots of pain, but during this sadness I am heart warmed to see so many people rally together to share love and solidarity, but also opportunities to stay busy.


It can become easy to retreat into ourselves and become overwhelmed with everything. Please remember that you are not in this alone. Do check in with one another, and offer any support you can. I’ve recently discovered the Houseparty app, which is a great way to connect with friends and ensure that you’re still getting the TLC you deserve. One thing’s for certain: we’re all unsure and doing the best we can, but this tenacity will no doubt see us making it through this.


One thing I must say though is please do not feel pressured to be productive. During these odd times, rest is very much your friend. Take the time to self-care – to do those things you were neglecting due to your busy freelance lifestyle. If you are working from home, allow any luxuries that it might bring. You can be more flexible with your schedule and take more regular breaks. Remember to drink water and eat properly. If you can, try to enjoy some of this spring sunshine. And be sure to do something everyday for yourself that makes you feel good. Perhaps write your own quarantine care plan? It might help provide some structure. Here’s mine as an example:

8:00am – wake up and lie there and think
8:30am – get up, step outside and think some more
9:00am – shower and eat breakfast
10:00am – get to work (respond to emails from previous day and make a task list)
11:00am – team meeting and check in and some good vibes
11:30am – crack on with work tasks for the day
1pm – lunch
2pm – carry on with work tasks for the day (with regular breaks included)
6pm – make dinner and eat it
7.30pm – do some writing
After 9pm – do silly things that are good for the brain (Netflix/Xbox/calls with friends)


Whatever your plan for social distancing is, it’s important to make one that works for you. But do remember that theatre is not the most important thing in the world – your health and wellbeing is. So let’s please focus on that. Rest. I mean it. If you’re reading this and are worrying that you’re not being ‘productive’ enough, then stop that thought. I get it, but seriously, stop. As a freelancer myself, I understand that it’s our curse to always be expected to be doing something. However, and I want you to really hear this, no one is expecting you to churn out a masterpiece. But we are expecting you to look after yourself.


The Old Vic have just launched again our well known #OVConnect. Usually this has been used to seek creative collaborations, with the emphasis on finding work. It still has this goal, however in these moments I would also challenge you to use it to connect with each other on a more personal, human level. If there are any tips you have to positive wellbeing during social distancing, please share. If you’re concerned with anything and feel like you have a question that needs answering, ask it. If you want to share a crazy idea you currently have, that could be created by a team remotely, use the hashtag to search for fellow makers. Let’s collaboratively create a network that supports, nurtures and champions each other during these difficult months.


For those worrying about their finances, Arts Council have recently announced their plans to support freelancers. Cash grants of up to £2,500 will be available to artists that have a track record of working in publicly funded culture. More guidance for applicants will go live on March 30.



UK Theatre Industry Coronavirus Support

If you’re on Facebook, you can join this group that is offering some good conversation and support around coronavirus’ impact on the UK Theatre Industry.




The fantastic Improbable have recently shared in their mailing list other signposts to aid and peer support initiatives in progress, so do check them out.



There are so many more I haven’t had a chance to find, so please do your research too!

One thing is for certain; this industry is very much alive and kicking. Why? Because it lives in every one of you. Each artist that exists in this crazy game we call theatre gives it a different energy – one that can never go away. Please do keep the faith. We are stronger together and will beat this.

Oh and one final thing… If you find yourself struggling through this period of isolation, feel free to get in contact with me on and we can chat about things. If not, do keep safe and well and positive too.

Now… wash your hands. Stay indoors and keep positive.


x Alistair

Alistair Wilkinson

Artist Development Manager, The Old Vic

We need your help now more than ever. Find out how you can support us whilst our theatre is temporarily closed