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Performers, creatives and backstage staff see pay bump and new working conditions after Equity deal

In heartening news for many, producers will also have to organise tour accommodation for performers

Shaftesbury Avenue at dusk
© Garry Knight / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

A landmark new pay and contract deal between Equity and the Independent Theatre Council (which includes 70 venues and theatre companies) has seen pay rises and altered working conditions for performers, creatives and backstage staff.

According to Equity and beginning in April 2023, performers and stage managers will see an increase to the minimum weekly salary of over ten per cent (rising from £494 to £545) and an increase to minimum daily fees by 20 per cent (rising from £100 to £120).

Choreographers, designers and directors will also be given an increase of over ten per cent to fees, while there will also be a 20 per cent uplift on meal, daily accommodation, and commuting allowances.

Equity has also announced that it will transform its touring and relocation allowances, which are now set to be combined into one living away allowance of £447.68 per week in London and £410 per week outside of London. This sees a major uplift in allowances for both those inside and outside the capital.

Finally and, according to Equity, "most significantly": "the agreement makes clear that the principal responsibility for finding and providing accommodation sits with producers, meaning stressful extra labour for the workforce and the undignified situation of staying in unsanitary and unsafe conditions can be prevented."

Equity has also said the agreement "confirms a shorter maximum working week in rehearsals (five day week) and a reduction in maximum weekly hours during production week."

The news was, as expected, met with clamours of support from those within the arts, with Bedknobs and Broomsticks star Dianne Pilkington saying: "This is a really brilliant thing. Well done Equity. Unions are important."

Waitress lead David Hunter said: "WOAH WOAH WOAH! Looks like some big shifts here! From what I can tell, it represents significant steps forward."

One stage producer, Piers Cottee-Jones, raised some concern, stating on Twitter: "Fully in favour of people being paid their due, which was too low pre-pandemic. But with energy bills skyrocketing, production costs sky rocketing, haulage sky rocketing etc, and audience numbers being down significantly, I am really worried about who will actually be able to tour."

We'll update this story as major reactions come in.