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How to set up, survive and thrive as a freelancer in the cultural sector

  • NCVO 8 All Saints Road London, England, SW19 1BX United Kingdom (map)

A one-day training course for those aspiring to be effective and successful freelancers and consultants.

Join this practical and inspiring training workshop designed to kick-start and sustain a flourishing freelancing or consultancy business. The day is jam-packed with proven approaches, ideas and tools to help you to get started, market yourself, find work, win work, manage your finances, handle client relationships and look after your health and well-being.

Book here.

Who it’s for

Anyone who is thinking about freelancing, or who will have been freelancing for less than a year by October 2019, and is working with arts and heritage organisations across any art form or specialist area. 

The course is relevant to all artforms and aspects of the day will be tailored to the participants attending, but please note that there is a particular focus on museums, heritage sites, libraries, galleries and archives.

Why attend

  • Invest just one day to fast-track your business development and gain long-lasting benefits

  • Discover proven and best practice approaches, practical tips, tools and frameworks to help you strategically develop and grow your business

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of what it’s like to work as a freelancer in the cultural sector

  • Dedicate time out to reflect on what you want to achieve and create a realistic action plan

  • Boost your confidence so that you can take the plunge or become a more proactive freelancer

  • Build a network of new freelance contacts working with a range of arts and heritage organisations

  • Learn from two experienced and passionate trainers, both successful and award-winning freelance consultants in the cultural sector

  • Receive a comprehensive pack of handouts, exercises and further information resources to take home.

    “This was an absolutely fantastic day: I’ve learnt so much and Marge and Christina are not only excellent facilitators, but also incredibly generous in sharing their own experiences. I highly recommend this day for anyone – existing, potential freelancers – and actually people who contract freelancers in organisations too. Thank you.” Delegate from the course run in February 2019

About the day

Course content

  • What to consider before you take the plunge

  • Setting up as a freelancer and getting started

  • Basic UK legal, financial and tax matters to be aware of

  • Thinking like a business

  • Creating a distinctive proposition and setting yourself apart from others

  • Marketing yourself

  • Finding work and deciphering briefs more effectively

  • Managing your finances

  • Deciding what to charge

  • Managing client relationships

  • Maintaining a work-life balance and your well-being.


  • Arrival and refreshments from 9.30am

  • Training starts at 10am

  • The day concludes at 4.30pm.


Delegates will receive lunch, drinks and snacks throughout the day. Dietary requirements will be catered for.

Venue and access

  • Fully wheelchair accessible

  • Located 10 minutes’ walk from King’s Cross station

  • Further directions from the venue's website 

Cost and booking

Book here.

The first 10 early bird spots are £200, after which tickets are £230. We are able to offer a staged payment option, with two payments of half the amount, one payable within two weeks of booking and one payable by 4 weeks before the course - please contact should you want more information about this.

Refunds are possible up to Monday 16 September 2019, minus a £20 admin fee.


For participants who want or need to stay in the area overnight, we recommend the Premier Inn King's Cross on York Way or Premier Inn St Pancras on Euston Road.

What previous participants had to say:

“Absolutely brilliant – made this much more real for me and gave something concrete to start with which is SO helpful. Really appreciate both your openness in responding to queries. Also you were both lovely and engaging speakers and provided EXCELLENT workshop materials. THANK YOU!!”

“This has been the most useful CPD experience. Very well worth the investment.”

“It’s been a fantastic session and unusually the day has gone really fast! Very glad I invested in it – exceptionally valuable.”

“This was an absolutely fantastic day: I’ve learn so much and Marge and Christina are not only excellent facilitators, but also incredibly generous in sharing their own experiences. I highly recommend this day for anyone – existing, potential freelancers – and actually people who contract freelancers in organisations too. Thank you.”

“Very well delivered with a good balance between information and space to think / discuss. You’re a great double act!”

“Fabulous day, I learned so much and really value you sharing your experiences.”

“So brilliant! One of the most useful and relevant workshops I’ve ever been to. Thank you.”

“Marge and Christina were excellent facilitators – warm, engaging and illustrated with lots of real-life practical examples. My confidence in believing that I can do this has grown considerably. Thank you!”

“Excellent training day, really useful for a beginner, lots of food for thought. Clear presentation style, amazing set of resources. Thank you so much!”

About the trainers

Christina and Marge co-run the Museum Freelance Network, volunteer-run network set up to support and champion freelancers and consultants working with museums, galleries, archives, libraries, and heritage sites. The Museum Freelance Network is an IPSE Ambassador organisation. They are experienced trainers and award-winning freelancers who work in the cultural sector and have also both worked client-side commissioning freelancers, consultants and agencies.

Christina Lister is an experienced marketing and audience development consultant, trainer and facilitator for the cultural sector. She has worked with a wide range of clients including the Science Museum Group, South East Museum Development Programme, Colchester Arts Partnership, Ensemble Dance Co, University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology, the Scout Association, The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL), Vivacity Peterborough, Norwich Historic Churches Trust and de Havilland Aircraft Museum.

Christina has worked in marketing and communications for 15 years and her work has won a range of marketing awards. She was a Runner-Up in the Freelancer of the Year Awards 2015, organised by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed). She is a member of the Women Cultural Leaders Network East and speaks at conferences including the Museums Association Conference, the Museums + Heritage Show and the Visitor Studies Group Conference. 

Christina is passionate about bringing freelancers together and helping them have a voice in the sector and she recently authored a guide for museums on Working With Freelancers on behalf of SHARE Museums East. She has achieved the certified Advanced Train the Trainer award from the College of Public Speaking.

Marge Ainsley is a well-respected freelance cultural consultant delivering professional training and facilitation across the UK, with specialist expertise in marketing, audience development and evaluation. A Fellow of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning, and Member of the Market Research Society, she was previously voted one of the 50 best freelancers in the UK by national marketing magazine, The Drum. 

Over the last eleven years as a freelancer, she has worked with a range of clients including London Transport Museum, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester Art Gallery, Arts Council England, National Museums Liverpool, Cheshire Archives, Scottish Book Trust, Get it Loud in Libraries, More Music, St Helens Libraries, and the National Trust.

Marge regularly speaks at seminars and conferences, including most recently at Museum Next in London.

Terms and conditions

Please click here to view the terms and conditions for the course.