Fair Work Policy

Care, respect, and rigour are at the heart of our artistic work with participants. We aim to also apply these values across our organisational workforce, including freelance artists and arts workers.

We are aware that we don’t operate in a vacuum. The arts sector is facing real-term funding cuts because of the cost-of-living crisis. These have direct repercussions on arts workers, cultural organisations and our ability to develop and nurture collaborations.

However, we believe financial crisis should never be an excuse to treat workers poorly, offer low-paid jobs and little opportunity for personal growth. We believe the arts is what makes us human, brings us together and make us feel joy, empathy and hope. This is why we believe our sector should be at the forefront of tackling systemic injustice by setting an example with fair pay. Small changes can lead to big ones and we feel Tricky Hat can also influence behaviours positively.

We consulted key staff members by organising a session to critically assess Tricky Hat current practice of fair work and our aspirations ongoing. It was led by Tricky Hat chair Ondine Oberlin, with freelance associate artists: Aya Kobayashi, Kim Beveridge, freelance General Manager Elle Crockart and Artistic Director Fiona Miller. This session helped us gain a better insight of our workforce’s perception of best practice within the arts sector in terms of fair work. We then embedded our key points within this policy. This document has been reviewed and signed off by all involved.

We will use The Fair Work Convention Framework (2015) aspiring to make Scotland a world leader in fairness at work. We will follow the four principles of fairness at work which are: Effective Voice, Opportunity, Security, Fulfilment and Respect and apply these to the context of Tricky Hat.

Effective voice

“Effective voice requires a safe environment where dialogue and challenge are dealt with constructively and where workers’ views are sought out, listened to and can make a difference.” (p.11, Fair Work Convention Framework)

Safe space

Creating a safe and non-judgmental environment for our participants is at the heart of everything we do. This principle is adopted across our organisation and the way our staff and freelance workforce are treated. “Because we create a safe space for participants to express themselves, we organically create a safe space amongst ourselves when we work together. I don’t think we could work any other way.” (Aya Kobayashi, Associate Artist). A safe space allows self-worth to flourish and is an essential component to working collaboratively: “Valuing your staff within an organisation can only happen when you value yourself.” (Fiona Miller, Artistic Director).


At Tricky Hat, every freelancer is treated as an equal collaborator. Artists and arts workers are recruited and retained based on their skills, passion for Tricky Hat’s aims and values, and their ability to bring their vision, lived experience and ideas. “When I started at Tricky Hat I was told things weren’t set in stone. I felt my ideas were always welcomed, considered and that I could have a real impact on the future of the company.” (Elle Crockart, General Manager)


Prior to each project, we provide enough context to staff so they can understand why it’s important and why we are doing it: “I can’t work if I don’t understand the context of a project. As a freelance artist I have found myself on many occasions delivering workshops in communities not knowing why I was there. This never happens with Tricky Hat.” (Kim Beveridge, Associate Artist). A brief, workflow and timetable is provided to each artist so they can effectively organise their workload: “Especially within established projects like The Flames, I like that there is a clear structure to it, so I know how best to contribute.” (Aya Kobayashi, Associate Artist). At the end of each project, we always run feedback sessions with artists. We highlight what went well and address any critical points for future development.

Union recognition

Tricky Hat’s General Manager is a member of Unison and our Producer is a member of Scottish Artists Union, but none of our freelance artists or Artistic Director are members of a union. “I have never found a union which represents me as a worker so never joined one.” (Kim Beveridge, Associate Artist). “I was a member of Equity, but I realise that they weren’t protecting me anymore because I was working with non-professional performers.” (Fiona Miller, Artistic Director). We recognise the importance of unions to the workforce and the General Manager and Producer continue to sign-post Tricky Hat freelancers to union membership (i.e BECTU, EQUITY, Musicians Union, Scottish Artists Union). However, we also recognise the current gap in protecting arts workers that don’t fit within existing union categories.


We want Tricky Hat to be an organisation where staff can access opportunities and progress at work.


We encourage staff to take initiative and identify new opportunities which will contribute to their own progress and the development of the company: “Over the last couple of years, I have appreciated being able to represent the company during talks and networking events. I enjoy making contacts with people on behalf of the company and initiating new collaborations. Next year, I will lead a project in North Lanarkshire where I am from.” (Kim Beveridge, Associate Artist). Every artist comes on board with a unique skillset and identity – we find opportunities in which they can flourish: “The collaboration with Japan over the last few years has been a very important part of my personal and professional development. As a Japanese artist, I feel that I am using my skills and who I am to make great art happen. This is a rare opportunity” (Aya Kobayashi, Associate Artist).”


As artists and arts workers, we frequently balance multiple freelance work and life commitments. We work flexibly to allow our workforce to access a range of opportunities in our project portfolio. We identify a budget based on a number of days so that staff can plan their time in advance. However, if something comes up, other artists in the team can often provide cover and support. “As a single mother, I appreciate Tricky Hat’s flexibility which allows me to access a wide range of projects without having to commit fully to each of those.” (Aya Kobayashi, Associate Artist)


Annually we organise a week-long-residency at Cove Park, allowing the team to reflect on where we are and our aspirations for the future. This is a key moment where we stop focussing on immediate milestones and find space to breathe, experiment and be creative. This is a rare opportunity for freelance staff, usually busy juggling multiple projects, to access the luxury of time, space and reflection. Tricky Hat staff and freelancers’ opinions, ideas and aspirations are sought and collaboratively we draw and plan the future of the organisation and projects.


Like most cultural organisations, Tricky Hat has been facing many challenges, including the cost-of-living crisis. This has a direct impact on our staff and freelancers with outgoings rising as well as an increase in cost of our direct environment (venues, funders etc.). This threatens Tricky Hat financial security and subsequently the security we can offer our staff.

While work cannot be 100% secure, we believe the burden of insecurity and risks shouldn’t rest primarily on workers. We take a collective approach to problem-solving and Tricky Hat board is available to advise and support workers: “We realised we didn’t have enough capacity to submit this funding application. We asked the board if they could support us and their input allowed us to submit it.” (Elle Crockart, General Manager).

All our freelance workers have got part-time jobs and commitments to other organisations, allowing them to sustain themselves and not rely primarily on Tricky Hat income. We continue to refer to industry standard rates of pay in order to determine fair and decent income for our workers.  We use a combination of Equity, Independent Theatre Council, UK Theatre Guidance, alongside other relevant industry standard rates of pay, terms and conditions. We also follow Creative Scotland’s guidance on commitment to Fair Pay. We highly respect the freelancing creative community, and Tricky Hat allocates a high proportion of its project expenditure towards artist fees and providing work for the artistic community in Scotland.

We work with staff flexibly to align with family life and caring responsibilities. As a small company we are very agile and work responsively to our environment which makes us very resilient in times of crisis. “As we get funding on a project-by-project basis, there is always a degree of uncertainty about the future. However, we are confident that the work keeps coming because it just does.” (Aya Kobayashi, Associate Artist). “I like that decisions are made quickly, with transparency. It makes me feel more in control and therefore more secure.” (Kim Beveridge, Associate Artist).


At Tricky Hat, we collaborate creatively with participants from all walks of life, particularly those who suffer from stigma and discrimination. We offer them a platform where they can showcase their stories, hopes and dreams to a wide audience. “I find it very rewarding to be working for an organisation with such a positive impact on its participants and the wider society.” (Elle Crockart, General Manager). We give our staff agency and autonomy on projects so they can develop their full potential: “I like being trusted artistically.” (Kim Beveridge, Associate Artist). Once a year, we aim to offer an enriching experience to staff for their personal and professional development. For example, we applied to FST Go and See Fund so Tricky Hat Artistic Director and Associate Artist Kim Beveridge could attend Beltaine Festival – Ireland’s Creative Ageing Festival.


Tricky Hat Productions does not discriminate based on: Race, ethnic background, nationality, citizen or immigration status, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability. Tricky Hat’s raison d’etre is to work with people who experience discrimination. We wouldn’t be able to deliver this mission without treating our own workforce with the same respect we give our participants, regardless of their background. We strive to create a welcoming work place atmosphere where we encourage everyone to be themselves whilst also being mindful of others.