Freelancers in the Dark: Final Report

Our end of project report is now live!

Our final report is based on our research over the past 2 years, including our interviews, survey, focus groups and creative workshops.

The report includes a discussion of the theatre industry before COVID-19, before exploring the social, economic and cultural impacts of the pandemic, and the responses of freelancers including the ingenuity, resourcefulness and resilience of freelancers across the industry. Finally we outline our conclusions and future recommendations for the industry, including an urgent need to prepare for future challenges.

Download the report as a PDF here (external site).

Read the report online here.

If you would like to read the report in an alternative format please email us at


This report captures an extraordinary moment in time for the UK theatre industry. However, as we discovered, it also reveals the pre-existing issues found within the industry that left the UK theatre sector vulnerable to devastating consequences for theatre workers lives and livelihoods during Covid-19. As we have shown, those consequences greatly impacted all areas of the UK theatre industry and its freelance theatre workforce. When this project was conceived in the Spring of 2020, we had no idea that by March 2022, we would still be suffering sector uncertainty caused by wave after wave of Covid-19 variants. This report is an archive of sorts, mapping out the evolution of UK freelance theatre workers’ experiences over a 2-year period beginning in February 2020. Experiences of volatility, struggle, opportunity, resilience, community, activism, and creativity are all to be found in the lived realities of the freelance theatre workforce documented in these pages. In the end, this is not solely a research study, but a co-created testament of how the pandemic shone a light on the hopes and fears of the theatre workforce (both freelance and organisations) at a moment in time where radical change was seen as possible in the midst of, arguably, the most long-term crisis to hit the UK theatre industry since the English Civil War in the 17th century. Through the honesty and generosity of our research participants, we were able to offer a reflection and analysis of all that makes the UK theatre industry to me, and the freelancers who occupy 88% of its workforce, endless sources of resilience, creative thinking, and collective support.

Dr Holly Maples, Principal Investigator, Freelancers in the Dark

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