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Updated: May 22, 2021

Calling all UK based Set and Costume Designers! It has been an extraordinarily difficult year for our community and the theatre and live performance industry, our respect and solidarity to you all.

For the first time in many of our careers, freelance Designers have had the space and time to talk to each other. As a community, we have taken the opportunity to connect, share and reflect on all aspects of our lives in theatre design; on difficult past working experiences and careers paths, the lack of financial sustainability in our profession, the general lack of understanding of the length of time it takes to deliver projects, the lack of visibility of our essential role as designers in conceiving and creating the work, the lack of diversity within our discipline, and much more.

During the COVID-19 lockdowns we have made space for open community conversations, and allowed ourselves the freedom to imagine what could, and should, be… Scene/Change itself was born of this time. Now, by harnessing these connections made and using the power we have found in unity and shared experience, we must ensure both our concerns and aspirations are heard.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the root cause of many of these concerns - Theatre Designers in the UK have been suffering a steady erosion of their working conditions, remuneration, career sustainability and opportunity for decades – and with the industry in freefall, these have all been brought in to sharp focus over this last year.

As the industry begins the difficult process of gearing back up and producing live work again during 2021, we are aware that offers and a/v checks are now being made to freelance Designers across the entire UK theatre ecology. In these formative steps back toward the light there is a grave worry that little has changed for our profession, and yet precedents are now being set. The situation for Theatre Designers in the UK cannot remain a wilful blind spot of producers and the theatre industry moving forward from this time.

So, over the last few months, Scene/Change have been developing a survey for UK Set and/or Costume Designers which we would now like to invite you to fill out…

This state of the nation survey has a principal aim - to establish whether or not Set and/or Costume Designers receive fair remuneration for their time spent engaged (and overheads incurred) working on productions across the UK theatre and live performance industry.

We will assess this by asking you to submit data for any live performance produced in the UK during the last 5 years, on which you were employed as a professional freelance designer. This can be at any venue, at any scale, in any genre. From Community Hall to West End Musical. From Pub Theatre to Found Space. From Higher Education Venues to Opera Houses… our aim is to capture the entire UK theatre design ecology.

You will also be invited to submit some basic personal information and early career access information in order to help us identify patterns of employment over recent years within our profession. With this significant body of submissions, and building on the work of the SBTD, Equity, BECTU and the Value of Design campaign over recent years; our aim is to provide conclusive data to support negotiations for fairer and more equitable pay, improved working conditions, and support structures for freelance set and costume designers moving forward from this time.

With some of your information prepared, the online survey will take around 30 mins to complete. Links to the survey and PDF supporting guide (with the full list of questions) are attached below. We’d be very grateful if you could submit a survey ASAP. One production submission would be great... 2+ would be even better :)

Please join us in this action! Let’s start to build the foundations of a working environment for our freelance discipline that is fit for purpose. Progressive, more accessible, more inclusive and far more sustainable.

In solidarity



A link to the full online S/C UK Set and Costume Designers Survey is here

A Pdf Supporting Guide (with the full list of questions) to help you prepare can be found here. (Please familiarise yourself with these questions in advance so you can fill out the online survey in one sitting).

A supporting infographic Timeline of the design and production process can be viewed here

Participation in this survey is entirely voluntary and the majority of questions have an ‘opt out’ option. All data will be collated and held by S/C, and any findings will only ever be presented anonymously. Our full Privacy Policy can be viewed here. You will be asked to confirm at the bottom of the first survey page that you wish to take part. You are free to withdraw your data at any time.

If you have any questions regarding this survey, please contact...

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