A young man in a grey jumper and wearing Unlimited lanyards sits at a table engaged in conversation with a woman who has her face turned away from camera.

Unlimited appoints Sonny Nwachukwu as part of the Freelance Task Force

Unlimited is proud to be part of #FreelanceTaskForce. This is an initiative linking more than 100 arts organisations and venues, coordinated through Fuel, to create a Freelance Task Force. If you missed it, you can read the original Open Letter to Theatre and Performance Makers here.

Why? So that the 70% of the theatre/performance workforce who are self-employed or freelance can be better represented in the conversations to come about what happens next in our cultural sector. We also know that disabled artists and creatives are even more likely to work in a freelance capacity than their non-disabled counterparts.

Every organisation has been working independently to identify one freelancer who they will pay for one day per week for June, July, and August (13 weeks) to be part of the Freelance Task Force. They aren’t there to put forward the organisation’s perspective, but instead are there in their own right, to advocate and be a voice within the freelance sector.

Unlimited is proud to have selected the amazing Sonny Nwachukwu to fulfil this role.

Sonny is an incredible dancer, choreographer, writer and administrator. Last year he gained one of our emerging artists awards for Circles, and he has just gained a Micro Award to continue developing Triple Threat.

Sonny was also an Unlimited trainee with us for 12 months – you can watch his leaving film here (audio described version here). He knows the needs of disabled artists inside out and has a truly intersectional perspective. After working with Unlimited he has continued his own creative journey and works part time for Arts Council England in an administrative role in processing project grants, and so is familiar with the arts funding systems – and its positives and negatives.

All organisations have been asked to be transparent about how they selected their freelancer. We knew we had to act quickly, the timescale for recruiting was initially just over a week, later extended by a further week. This was due to the need for speed – the need to get the task force up and working quickly in order to be able to exert influence in a fast paced and rapidly moving situation.

We know that open recruitment processes for us take at least a month. This provides time and space to translate materials into different formats (Fuel were brilliant at this, providing easy read, BSL, large print and audio versions of the original letter). It also allows time for information to circulate around and reach the right people – in fact, we did a whole video and blog on accessible recruitment featuring Sonny prominently if you want to know more!

We knew we didn’t have time or capacity to undertake a full open recruitment process. All our spare capacity at the moment is going on supporting our emergency micro awards and sourcing funds to extend this scheme beyond the Unlimited Alumni.

We decided to look at our ex-trainees and see if there was a ‘fit’ – helping a trainee extend their journey of influence into the cultural sector. We also looked at the ‘representation tracker’ linked to the Freelance Task Force. This was a tool to see if they can ensure that the task force membership is as diverse as possible, across as many different areas as possible. It includes geography, disciplines, ethnicity, class, immigration status, age, disability, gender, and LGBTQIA+. We cross referenced the categories where representation appeared lesser, with the list of ex-trainees and used that to come up with a priority order to ask if they were interested. Sonny was top of the list, was asked, and said yes.

We have also been asked to be transparent about how much we are paying and why. We are paying £150 a day which is a rate that we use for ex-trainees when we employ them for additional tasks after the end of their traineeship for any work they do for us on a freelance basis.

We feel the Freelance Task Force is essential at this time to ensure the significant, vital and diverse freelance voice is truly heard in this time of great upheaval. We are proud to be able to add Sonny’s voice to that mix.