“Building Back Better? Creative Freelancers and Learning from the Covid-19 Experience”

By Professor Nick Henry

A National Webinar and Panel Discussion for our NESTA Policy Evidence Centre project

On 30th November 2020, Professor Nick Henry and Dr Paul Sissons from the Centre for Business in Society (CBiS) chaired and presented a national Webinar and Panel to an invited audience as part of their NESTA Creative Industries Policy Evidence Centre funded research project on Creative Freelancer Business Models and Place-based Growth.

Led by Coventry University, in partnership with Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, Creative United, London Borough of Waltham Forest, Northumberland County Council and the University of Warwick, the project’s (pre-Covid) aim had been to investigate and provide greater insight into (place-based) creative freelancer business models in order to support locally-based investment and policy proposals.

Interviewing of creative freelancers had been supposed to start in spring 2020 – just as the UK went into lockdown and creative freelancer businesses into freefall. Unprecedented policy, sector and community responses have followed with the onset of the pandemic, providing substantial insight into the perceived and actual social value, position in the economy and vulnerabilities of creative freelancer business models.

Prompted by interviews with 33 creative freelancers between July-August 2020 living and/or working in each of the three localities of London Borough of Waltham Forest, Coventry City Region and the County of Northumberland, this online presentation, stakeholder panel and Q&A reflected on how the world of creative freelancers in the economy has been made visible under Covid-19. The event discussed the needs of, and possibilities for, creative freelancer businesses as we enter a new economic development period of ‘reset’, ‘recovery’ and ‘build back better’.

The event for over 30 participants was hosted by Creative United. Panel Members responding to the research findings were:
Deborah Annetts, CEO at Incorporated Society of Musicians
Julia Bennett, Head of Policy and Research, Crafts Council
Fred Hopkins, Head of Business Development and Membership, One Dance UK 
Julie Lomax, CEO, A-N
Yvonne Conchie, freelancer supporting rural communities to become more resilient

The full CBiS research team includes Dr Victoria Barker, Dr Kevin Broughton, Dr Jordon Lazell and Visiting Fellow, Dr Tim Angus. Alongside researchers, other participants included a range of national and local policy influencers and makers such as the PEC, Innovate UK Creative Industries team, Local Authorities, and sector associations.

A Report drawing on the interim findings and event discussion is now available on the project website.

The project completes in March 2021, having interviewed 84 creative freelancers in total between July to November 2020, and when a NESTA Policy and Evidence Centre Paper will be published.

Contact: Professor Nick Henry, Nick.Henry@coventry.ac.uk



Tomas Allum