Meet Principal Dancer Francesca Hayward – the face of Marie Claire’s #savethearts campaign

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  • Here’s what we learnt from Francesca Hayward, the face of our #savethearts Christmas campaign…

    The coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it, with the government restrictions on work and leisure leading to record rates of unemployment and an economic crisis.

    While all sectors are having to adapt to the new normal, the creative industry has been particularly crippled by COVID-19, with theatres and music venues, remaining closes for much of this year putting thousands out of work.

    The government has pledged a £1.57 billion rescue package, but hundreds of thousands of professional freelancers – the backbone of the workforce, are not eligible for support.

    That’s why we’re launching our Save The Arts campaign, spearheaded by Francesca Hayward and in partnership with The Theatre Artist Fund.

    Principal dancer at the royal ballet and face of Marie Claire’s #savethearts campaign Francesca Hayward. (Photograph: Vicky Lawton)

    MC Editor-in-Chief Andrea Thompson sat down with Francesca this week to talk saving the arts, surviving lockdown and diversity in theatre in association with Dior Beauty.

    Here are 5 things we learnt about the arts from Francesca Hayward…

    1. The arts needs more recognition for how much it contributes to society

    ‘In the long-term I would love to see some recognition for how much we contribute to the national economy. We have so many negative stereotypes about ballet being just for girls and not a proper career. I would love to see people value it as a career choice for their children. It’s a personal mission of mine. You wouldn’t believe the number of people that say to me “But what do you do for your real job?” when I tell them I’m a dancer.’

    2. Many dancers are freelancer workers who have to work multiple jobs

    ‘As dancers, we know how lucky we are to get to do what we love every day, and we wouldn’t change it for the world. But there is a particular branch of Sainsbury’s in the West End of London where the majority of the night shift are talented musical theatre dancers just trying to pay their bills and keep a roof over their head.’

    3.  Many creatives have been left unsupported in the coronavirus pandemic

    ‘Some were paid a pretty grim retainer for a couple of months and then just out of the blue were told that their job was gone – when you do a whole eight years of training every single day and have worked so hard to be where you are, it’s not easy.’

    4. Behind every performer there is a team of creatives who make the magic happen.

    ‘You’re the one that’s out on stage but there are hundreds of people behind the scenes all working so you can step out there each night. There are the people who designed my costume, like the tutu I wear, which had to be made by three different skilled professionals who spent their whole life training in that particular skill. I have someone who specially fits it for me so I can dance in it; I have someone who fits my pointe shoes, the people who did my hair and make-up, and the person who even set my wig. Then there are the lighting people, the props people, the stage department, the orchestra, everyone.’

    5. It is up to us to make the arts more inclusive

    ‘I don’t believe that there are lots of talented people from diverse backgrounds that are being rejected because when it comes to ballet, talent is the most important thing. What I really believe is that they’re not being introduced to these art forms in the first place, or they are feeling like they’re not welcome there. I don’t think we’re going to see the issue resolved in the next few years. We have to start with the next generation, going into schools and inspiring people from all backgrounds. That is going to take time but that is what I feel committed to doing now.’

    Francesca Hayward photographed by Vicky Lawton.

    We will also be breaking down how you can personally help the freelance professionals that have been left unsupported. We’re teaming up with the Theatre Artists Fund, a donations-based grant fund for unsupported theatre workers and freelancers in urgent need of financial support. So whether you want to get involved or know someone who may qualify for a grant, we will be providing you with all the information you need.

    Get involved with our Save The Arts campaign this week via our social media platforms @marieclaireuk #savethearts

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