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Celebrating and supporting freelancers

To mark National Freelancer's Day and to demonstrate our commitment to supporting our freelance members, Icon is celebrating the hard work of all self employed and freelance conservators. We encourage you to share your stories of freelancing and freelancers by posting on social media and using #NFD and #MuseumFreelance. 

Icon remains concerned about the long term future for freelancers and small businesses. We continue to lobby Government and decision makers about the importance of retaining conservation skills and expertise. We are calling on Government to provide immediate financial and business support for freelancers and also to provide longer term support to stimulate new sources of work for freelancers and the self employed as we emerge from lockdown. 

Museums and galleries have suffered devastating loss of income over the last few months and will have to make tough financial choices about spending in order to ensure that they survive. We are concerned that they will struggle to commission important conservation work in the coming months and ask that the Government includes measures to safeguard the conservation of cultural heritage until cultural institutions get back on their feet. Without support we fear that some of our members will be forced to consider closing their businesses and important conservation skills will be lost from the sector.  

Icon strongly supports the efforts by Bectu, Museum Freelance Network and IPSE highlighting the value of the freelance workforce and the threat to their livelihoods

It seems entirely appropriate to take this opportunity to reflect on the value of freelance cultural practitioners and the contribution that our self-employed colleagues make to the conservation profession. Help us celebrate by posting your own stories on social media and using #NFD and #MuseumFreelance. Here are some content ideas to get you started:

  • share a client testimonial
  • share a project or piece of work you're proud of 
  • share a fun fact about yourself
  • share a client you'd like to work with
  • share a photo - of your workspace, of your work, your favourite tool, or a selfie.


Follow the links below to find out about what it’s like to work in conservation as a self-employed or freelance worker, as told by Icon members. From taking on complicated conservation projects to finding a studio space in London, or Google threatening to shut down your company website - these stories give just a glimpse of the passion and resilience of our conservators.

Peter Martindale ACR: "Saving the hidden text at All Saints Church"

Peter talks about the conservation works at All Saints Church, Steeple Langford, where painted texts were discovered under layers of overpaint in 2017. Take a look at the delicate craftsmanship bringing the texts back to life!

Lucy Branch ACR: "How Marilyn’s Boobs Nearly Crushed My Conservation Business"

Lucy recounts the shocking story of how the family-run conservation business’s website was shut down due to algorithms linking the page to questionable sites. She shares the knowledge she gained from the experience and top tips for avoiding such a scenario. 

Tiago Oliveira: "Finding a workspace in London"

When Tiago in 2015 decided to start his own conservation business, the biggest challenge was finding a workshop space in London. By identifying his conservation practice as a creative industry, Tiago was able to secure a studio appropriate to the unique requirements of object conservation at a reasonable rent. His story was even featured in the Heritage Alliance’s report on Heritage and Creative Industries. 


Image: Creative Commons


The views expressed in these comments are the views of the individual and do not reflect the views of The Institute of Conservation. Any comments containing inappropriate language or copyright material will be removed.

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