British Equity & ITC Agree New Pay Deal To Help UK’s Struggling Theater Workers

British Equity has struck a three-year agreement with the Independent Theatre Council (ITC) that will give British theater workers better pay, as the UK’s cost of living crisis continues.

Terms of the new pact will see pay and other financial provisions on the minimum daily and weekly rates rise 5% every year between 2024 and 2027 for performers, stage management and choreographers.

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The new Ethical Manager Agreement (EMA) is primarily designed to offset commuting costs, living away allowance and daily meal allowances.

In effect, the agreement means minimum weekly salaries will be £572.25 ($725.88) in the 2024/25 financial year, £600.86 in 2025/26 and £630.90 in 2026/27. It builds on an one-off, one-year EMA for 2023/24 that will saw a 10% increase in minimum weekly salaries and 20% uptick on minimum daily fees.

Directors and designers are covered by a one-year 2024/25 agreement amounting to a 5% pay increase. Equity plans to negotiate further changes to the agreement later this year, for commencement in 2025.

Theater workers in the UK have been hit hard by rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. The situation has gotten so bad that an Emergency Crisis Grant Award has been launched by the Royal Theatrical Fund in late 2023. Equity and the ITC hope the EMA will allow theater producers to budget in advance and better manage company accounts in the long-term.

The ITC and Equity said they consulted with their members in advance of negotiations to “ensure a process in which both parties could understand and sympathise with the challenges faced, leading to a constructive, respectful and diplomatic negotiation process.” The parties believe their agreement is a “strong example” for others to follow in an environment where there is “brazen exploitation of workforces.”

Karrim Jalali, Industrial Official for Equity said: “We’re proud to continue to work with ITC in such a positive direction. It’s very easy to give lip-service to the difficulty workers in the industry face, but ITC and its Ethical Manager members consistently demonstrate a genuine commitment to improving the industry. ITC and its Ethical Manager members understand the value of performing arts in dark and difficult times because they know the work is a moral and cultural necessity.”

Charlotte Jones, Chief Executive of ITC added: ITC has held wide-ranging discussions on the ITC/Equity agreements at forums throughout the UK and has a strong mandate from its members to continue to improve working conditions. The ITC/Equity minimum terms are used as a basis for funding applications and underpin good practice right across the sector. We are proud of our members’ commitment to putting people first and looking after their workforce whilst navigating an increasingly difficult funding climate. A three-year agreement is helpful for budgeting and planning.”

Equity and UK producer trade body Pact are set for talks over a new contract that will govern the vast majority of UK TV series and indie films. The union body also needs to strike separate deals with the BBC and ITV, and ‘side letter’ deals with the streamers.

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