I was asked to supply some advice and resources about parenting in the performing arts for an Equity website recently. I thought it would make a good blog. So, here’s some advice and some parenting resources if you’re a British voiceover artist.
Know your rights
It’s so important to know what is legal and what isn’t. Equity (the performance industry union) has created a brilliant manifesto for casting. Now, you may not do many castings as a voiceover artist, but this is still useful. It is illegal to be asked if you are pregnant or expecting a baby as a family. Equity is a fantastic resource for voiceover artists. I highly recommend you join. We have a dedicated Audio Commitee that deals with our industrial rights.
Parents in Performing Arts (PIPA) is a campaign for equal opportunities and access for parents and carers working in the performing arts. The aim is to achieve sustainable change in attitudes and practices in order to attract, support and retain a more diverse and flexible workforce.
Maternity and benefits
It all depends on how your earn a living! I’m going to assume you’re a freelance voiceover artist. This means you don’t have a regular employer or a PAYE code. You can still claim Maternity Allowance from the Government based on your self-employed income and NI contributions. If you’re an Equity member there is a brilliant Maternity, Parenting and Childcare Guide available. If not, read this guide on Maternity Allowance from the Government. I got the allowance and I also claim child benefit.
There is also a new scheme called Tax-Free Childcare which means for the 1st time self-employed and freelance parents gets some Governmental help towards the cost of childcare. It used to be that your employer would help with child tax credits. No bloody use if you don’t have one! We now get the VAT back on our childcare costs. So, for every £8 you spend on childcare, the Government gives you £2. Whoop whoop! Once your child is 3 years old, you’ll also qualify for the 30 hours free childcare scheme. But, be aware that both of these new systems are fraught with problems. Some nurseries aren’t offering the free hours and many people (myself included) are still finding it hard to get the tax free system to work. Teething problems I hope.
The Actors Children’s Trust offers financial support, information and advice to actors whose children have special needs, learning disabilities or long-term ill-health, up to the age of 21. They can help with childcare costs and other expenses for actors who are living with cancer or other illness, or facing family crisis.
You may also want to go to Maternity Action. They are the UK’s leading charity committed to ending inequality and improving the health and well-being of pregnant women, partners and young children – from conception through to the child’s early years.
Childcare is a nightmare! Most screen and stage work requires a lot of time away from home, evenings, weekends and long days. Most nurseries operate ‘normal’ working hours. Voicoever can be easier if you work from home, but you’ll still need childcare and if you work on location or at other studios, you’ll need lots of it!
The Theatre Parents Facebook group is a great resource for support and info and last minute babysitting!
- Bea and Co – specialise in creative babysitting. £11ph (min 2 hours) http://www.beaandco.com
- My Crèche offers drop-in and pre-booked hour-by-hour care for children aged 6 weeks to 8, as well as Clubs for older children beforeand after school. Based in Crouch End http://www.mycreche.co.uk/
- Sitters UK is probably the best last-minute childcare solution.
What have I missed? There are probably loads more useful organisations out there. And loads of tips and useful websites. Let me know in the comments section if you think I should add something and I’ll do an update.
Other links you may find useful
Mothers who Make. – http://www.improbable.co.uk/
Prams in the Hall – https://www.facebook.com/pra
Massive thanks to Guy Harris for creating the hilarious cartoon images. He’s a voiceover artist too!