Labour of Love – Film Festivals Speak Out On Working Conditions

In hives of creative industry across the country freelance work is standard practice. But the grumbling in these hives is getting louder as work is becoming less secure. The industry expects more work to be done ‘in kind’, or through the ‘labour of love’. Initiatives like the In Kind project are highlighting how much ‘free time’ is given to festivals – while Better than Zero is supporting workers in these industries to build trade union activity.

Film festivals are in particular straits, and an event tomorrow will bring together freelance film-makers, as part of the STUC-sponsored Radical Film Festival, to discuss solutions, methods and opportunities for re-valuing film festivals and creating sustainable work in the field, in part through trade union activity. Better than Zero, the trade union campaign against precarious work, will be on the panel, and union activists from the entertainment union BECTU will be taking part. In a guest post, Alexandra Maria Colta writes about tomorrow’s event.

5 May 2018 | 3-6 pm | STUC, Glasgow

Event link:
RFN event:

The RFN 68/18 Festival channels the revolutionary spirit of 1968 with a series of events, screenings and artworks across Glasgow throughout May 2018. Labour of Love – Festivals Speak Out on Working Conditions addresses the gap between the increasing economic and cultural value of film festivals and the constant struggle for sustainability, fair working conditions and diversity of staff. The event will take place on Saturday, 5 May 2018, at the STUC (333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow) at 3-6 pm. The event is free and un-ticketed.

The first of its kind in Scotland, the event will bring together people who have worked for or coordinated some of Glasgow’s most exciting alternative festivals such as Document,SQIFFSMHAFFAfrica in MotionSouthside Film FestivalBlueprint and New Visions. With input from unions and academics, the panel discussion will be followed by a workgroup session with the aim to generate a set of objectives and demands to inspire further action and change.

The event’s unique focus is on alternative, smaller, community-oriented, activist film festivals and curators in Glasgow and beyond, who have a specific set of challenges and demands. Every year, these festivals create opportunities to see films that would not have been screened otherwise, developing audiences, tastes and engaging with marginalized voices. At the same time, most of these festivals are under-funded, rely on volunteer labour and in-kind support, while struggling for sustainable organisational models and funding schemes. We will hear contributions from Justine Atkinson, Karen O’Hare, Sam Kenyon, Paula Larkin, Hans Lucas, Richard Warden and many others to be announced soon. The panel will be facilitated by Alexandra Colta (University of Glasgow) and Maria Velez-Serna (University of Stirling), researchers of film festivals and film exhibition in Scotland. The debate is open and participatory, welcoming experiences and opinions related to any kind of festival activity and paid/unpaid labour.

This exploratory open talk will challenge the existing working practices and their impact on mental health, creativity and development. It provides an opportunity for everyone to join the debate, share their experience and suggestions for improvement. The discussion and workgroup will create opportunities for collaboration between researchers, film festivals and trade unions in order to explore the role of festivals as arts organisations and create a space for new forms of mobilisation on labour rights for freelance workers.

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