Bristol Theatre Parents Network

9 Feb 2024

On 5 Mar, Bristol Theatre Parents Network is returning to Bristol Old Vic. 

Set up by The Wardrobe Ensemble founder member and performer Jesse Meadows 18months ago, the Network brings together local theatre freelancers who have recently become parents, building a community and making sure parents in the industry realise they're not alone.

We asked her why it's so important to provide a place for theatre makers to share their own experiences of the challenges of working in this sector with kids in the mix...

I cannot see how my freelance role will be compatible with family life

Stage Directors UK Census 2023

I basically started the Network after having my daughter two years ago and realising that there was little to no support for theatre freelancers when they became parents. 

The Bristol Theatre Parents Network is bringing together parents from across the theatre industry to discuss the barriers, solutions, and changes to their work and creative practice since having children.

Jesse Meadows (centre) with the cast of Education, Education, Education by The Wardrobe Ensemble

We have been coming together bi-monthly for the last 18 months to share knowledge, experience, ideas, and have a safe space to create an invaluable community. For self-employed artists there is little support offered to parents in returning to work in the theatre industry and for many it feels impossible to envisage how to juggle a work/family balance due to the rapid pace, instability and inflexibility that exist in the industry. 

Touring and working long and inflexible hours can make finding childcare challenging, as well as the varying income as a result of being freelance. By not creating structures that support parents to keep working, the industry is missing out by not having the wealth of experience, talent and creative voice of parenthood. We will continue to lose diverse voices from all walks of life. 

PIPA’s (Parents in the Performing Arts) June 2020 online survey highlighted the need for urgent action to enable better support for creatives with caring responsibilities within the arts and found that 7 out of 10 parents/carers (72%) are considering abandoning their career in the arts post pandemic.

There is a lot of work to be done to create a more accessible, supportive sector, but building conversation and awareness is the first step, and this network aims to fulfil that need.

Find our more about the Bristol Theatre Parents Network Here