Chinese Arts Now is proud to be a signatory of an open letter to theatre and performance makers, alongside many other arts organisations across the UK. This letter acknowledges the precarious position for many freelancers working in theatre. All signatories of the letter commit to facilitating a new task force for freelancers by funding a freelancer to join the task force. The original open letter which sets out the aims and ethos of this initiative is shown below along with access friendly versions.

Whiskey Chow (photo credit: Alice Denny)

Whiskey Chow (photo credit: Alice Denny)

The freelancer that CAN will be supporting for this role is Whiskey Chow. Whiskey is a London-based performance artist, feminist, LGBTQ activist and Chinese drag king. She has performed at venues such as Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the V&A Museum, Southbank Centre, ArtsAdmin, Museum of London, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. She is a former Co-President of Students’ Union (academic year 17/18, 18/19) at the Royal College of Art (RCA), currently working as a Visiting Lecturer at the RCA, and a Guest Lecturer at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and Chelsea College of Arts.

A note on the recruitment process:

Due to CAN’s recent open call for digital commissions and the short timeframe for the selection process, CAN did not want to carry out another demanding and rushed recruitment process.

Whiskey’s application to the CAN digital commission open call pitched a project that explored the ‘forgotten/muted/erased voices of artists who fall through the gaps of the protection/supporting/benefit system put in place by the arts sector in response to Covid-19.’ Although we were unable to commission the suggested artwork, the application showed Whiskey’s strong commitment to finding ways to support those struggling in the current time of uncertainty. We felt that together with her strong networks across performance art, LGBTQ activism, higher education and the Asian/migrant community, this made Whiskey the perfect candidate for the Freelance Task Force.

You can read the full open letter below.

Letter in large print format

Letter in easy read format by Access All Areas


An open letter to theatre and performance makers

This is a letter to self-employed and freelance theatre and performance makers in the UK. To the actors, playwrights, directors, choreographers, stage managers, designers, stage crews and set-builders to name just a few.

We really miss being with you during this period of lockdown. Making theatre and performance is a collaborative endeavour, so we are particularly affected by having to be apart from one another right now. We’re not able to come together, in the same space, to share the experience of a live performance. We’re not able to practise and enjoy our artform in its most basic form.

It’s now looking increasingly likely that won’t be possible for months to come, and we recognise that many freelancers face real uncertainty about if and how they will be able to continue to work in theatre. 70% of people who work in theatre and performance in the UK are freelance or self-employed, and it’s for this workforce, in all its diversity and complexity, that the impact of the current situation is most acute.

During these past weeks we have had conversations with many of you to understand your needs and the ways you have been affected. We are writing to express our support for you, and to lay out some practical steps we are taking to improve the situation based on these conversations.

As well as exploring ways of producing work with freelancers during lockdown, and using this time to develop new projects with freelancers for the future, we are also are working together to coordinate our response to the government, to articulate clearly what we can offer and what we need.

Most urgently, we are calling for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing, for all self-employed workers, and in the specific case of theatre and performance workers, until theatres are able to safely reopen. We also want to see criteria removed from the scheme which are stopping legitimate and much-needed claims.

Some of you are already involved in these conversations. We welcome your voices and need to hear from more of you in the conversations to come. Your unique networks, skillsets, perspectives, and ideas are vital to the entire sector, and we need to work with you in our response to this crisis.

Each of the organisations who’ve signed this letter are committed to reaching out to their family of self-employed and freelance theatre makers; listening to how this is affecting your work and lives, and to your needs and ideas for the future.

More than that, we want to facilitate the establishment of a national task force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. The purpose of the task force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It would create ongoing points of connection between freelancers and organisations, and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come. To help establish the task force, each of the organisations signing this letter will support a freelancer to join the group, ensuring they are paid for their time.

We want to offer a message of hope and solidarity. Our well-practised ability to work together, to form connections, and build relationships will help us through this. One day, hopefully soon, we will all be able to meet together, as people have done for centuries, in a shared space, for a shared experience. In the meantime, we remain committed to working for you and with you towards a sustainable future for theatre and performance.


Access All Areas

Action For Children’s Arts

Actors Touring Company

The Almeida Theatre


Barbican Theatre Plymouth

Battersea Arts Centre

Belarus Free Theatre

Belgrade Theatre

Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Boundless Theatre

Brighton Festival

Bristol Old Vic

Brixton House

The Bush Theatre


Chichester Festival Theatre

China Plate

Chinese Arts Now

Citz Glasgow

Clean Break

The Cockpit

Company of Others



Curatin Call Online

Curious Directive

Dance Base

Dance Umbrella

Derby Theatre

Diverse City


Donmar Warehouse

Eden Court Highlands

English Touring Theatre

Farnham Maltings


Frozen Light Theatre


Gate Theatre


Half of Cornwall





In Good Company

Jermyn Street Theatre

Jerwood Arts

Kiln Theatre

Knee High

Leeds Playhouse

Leicester Curve

Little Angel Theatre

Mercury Theatre

Miracle Theatre

National Dance Company Wales

The National Theatre

National Theatre of Scotland

National Theatre Wales

National Youth Theatre of Great Britain

The New Wolsey Theatre

Northern Stage

Nottingham Playhouse

One Dance UK

Oxford PLayhouse

Paines Plough

Pleasance Theatre

Polka Theatre

Ramps on the Moon

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Rose Theatre Kingston

Royal & Derngate

The Royal Court Theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Company

Rubicon Dance

Sadler’s Wells

Separate Doors

Shakespeare’s Globe

Sheffield Theatres

Smart Entertainment

Soho Theatre

Spare Tyre

Spin Arts

Stellar Quines

Stephen Joseph Theatre

Studio Wayne McGregor

Taking Flight Theatre

Talawa Theatre Company

Tangled Feet

Tara Arts

Theatre Centre

Theatre Peckham

Theatre Royal Plymouth

Theatre Royal Stratford East

Tiata Fahodzi

Unfolding Theatre

Unicorn theatre


Wales Millennium Centre

Wassail Theatre

Wise Children

The Yard

Yellow Earth


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