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Freelance Juggling…a new life

Well its all change for the Grady in a week’s time. I start the process of returning to the freelance world of arts craziness (management) after just over 3 years supported by the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds family.  Its been a wonderful time working with Colin Blumenau, an inspiring artistic director and theatrical family man. But now, with a gentle, and hopefully seemless, 3 month move from full-time, via part-time, to completely freelance, I have to remember some hidden skills.

The Art of Juggling is one of the most precious ones. From Sept 10th I will have three bosses – Stage Entertainment in Holland,  Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, and the Theatre Royal (for 3 days a week).  Plus I have to remember to find time to do my accounts, look for other work,  do my monthly CGO Surgeries, and have a life.  Its possible. I did it for 12 years before joining Cameron Mackintosh’s office…but I’m older now !!

However its an exciting time of change.  People have been getting a bit bored with seeing me at the Stage annual party or the TMA summer lunch and realising I’m wearing the same badge and same title three years on the trot.  Now, once again, I will have the element of surprise on my side when asked “what are you doing now?”. I just have to remember !!

The art of a portfolio career, as I’m told is the correct term, can be crazily stressful, but it should never be dull.  The real challenge is to find a way to manage time properly, and keep on top of the paperwork. I have various tricks of my trade – and I’d love to hear from my reader how he/she deals with the freelance game.

a) Mark off some time in your diary – even if it’s a month or two away – which is a protected day for not accepting any work. It may turn into a catch up on accounts day. It may turn into a partial rest day. But unless I start protecting time in the future, I go crazy.

b) Mark off some time each month to do grady promotion – because each current contract will come to an end, and you are suddenly left with a hole.  Note to self – keep being nice to the Whatsonstage editor so I can keep blogging.

c) Remember you have a family and friends – don’t work all the hours on the planet.

d) Make lists. Segment your week carefully so you know who you are working for when. And then, although we all may be the masters of multitasking, try not to be doing three ½ jobs simultaneously.

e) Find your best time in the day to deal with deadline work.  If like me you are rubbish late at night, then go to bed and get up fresh (time of current blog 06:25) and do the writing when you are freshest.

f) Choose 1/2hr a day when you tidy the desk, sort the lists, put things in piles.

g) Keep the website up to date. Keep networking and telling people you exist in their world. And keep putting out to the Universe what you want to come to you by way of new work, new contacts, and new opportunities.

h) Value yourself properly. Ask others what you are worth, what you should charge. You may be suprised...I was.

h) And gather around you amazing experts who are better than you. Peopl you can call on when you need help, advice or to share a project.  The best freelance projects of my career have usually happened when I’ve been asked whether I’d pick up an almost impossible project or a problem child and make it work. In each case I have needed some very very close colleagues who really know their onions in particular areas. Thank you Chris de Wilde, Benita Wakefield to name but two.

Anyway that’s this morning's change of life. Now I just have to work out how I can be in a meeting in Amsterdam on Tue 18th during the morning, and be back for the press night of Mansfield Park in the evening at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds – oh and get the flight at the cheapest rate possible !!

With the editor’s permission, I will continue to blog from the edges.
Hope you’ve had a great summer.  Let me know if you need a freelance juggler !!



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