Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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Womens TUC Motions

The following is a recent catalogue of the committee's motions to the Womens TUC Conference.


Arts Council England and gender inequality in theatre

On its website the Arts Council England states “Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better.”  For theatre to do this it is essential that our stories as women are told and women are employed on stage.   Men currently outnumber women on stage by at least two to one. 

Between 2011 and 2015 ACE will invest £1.4 billion of government money and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery.  Theatre receives a significant share of this money.

Conference deplores ACE’s failure to undertake comprehensive equality monitoring of performer employment.  It is unacceptable that an organisation subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty in receipt of large sums of public money is unable to say how many men and women are employed on the stages of the theatres it funds.  How can ACE effectively address equality of opportunity for women performers without knowing how many women and men are employed?

Conference calls on the TUC Women’s Committee to demand, alongside Equity, a commitment from ACE to institute comprehensive and transparent equality monitoring of performer employment within subsidised theatre in England.


Equal opportunities monitoring of performer employment is not standard practice across the entertainment industry. Where employers do undertake equal opportunities monitoring it is usually confined to employees rather than self-employed or freelance workers, to the exclusion of performers and other creative practitioners.  Equal opportunities data is rarely published transparently and Equity’s campaign for more roles for women performers on stage and screen has not been helped by the absence of this valuable data. 

This TUC Women’s Conference acknowledges the importance of equal opportunities monitoring within the workplace and supports Equity’s campaign for the introduction of a comprehensive system of equal opportunities monitoring across the entertainment industry.


Deutsche Bank boss Josef Ackermann's comment last year that a woman's presence on a company board might make meetings "prettier and more colorful" sent his personal stock plummeting. It was one of the less constructive contributions to the debate raging in Germany and across Europe about the chronic absence of women serving at the top of major public companies. Only 2% of FTSE companies are currently run by women and only 12% of positions on boards are occupied by women, yet in these difficult economic times, the case for getting more women on company boards has never been stronger.  It has been shown that the operating results of companies which have greater gender diversification are 56% higher, according to a study published in 2010 by the consultancy firm McKinsey.   A report published in 2007 by Goldman Sachs said that closing the gender gap could boost U.S. gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic growth, by as much as 9%, and up to 13% in the euro zone.

Conference calls upon the TUC to mount a campaign designed to address the underrepresentation of women on company and organizational boards.


Conference condemns the Government’s decision to scrap the socio-economic duty. The socio-economic duty would have provided a much needed overarching legal requirement to tackle inequalities of outcome resulting from socio-economic disadvantage.  Conference also condemns the proposed cuts to the arts announced in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.  Cuts to frontline arts organisations and to Arts Council England will be accompanied by further cuts to the arts as local authority budgets are cut over the next four years.  Cuts to the arts will:

  • Limit the accessibility to art and culture to those from more advantaged socio-economic groups; and
  • Erode regeneration and community cohesion; and
  • Reduce the ability of theatres to do work with schools, colleges and in local communities; and
  • Negatively impact on the employment, training and development opportunities available to women performers and creative workers.

Access to art and culture should not be limited to the more advantaged socio-economic groups and so conference calls on the TUC to support Equity’s campaign against the arts cuts and urge all affiliates to lend support to Equity’s campaign. 


Conference welcomes the Government's plans to introduce compulsory lessons in schools on the unacceptability of domestic violence on women and young girls. The recent research by the NSPCC which found that one in four girls, some as young as 13, had been slapped or hit by their boyfriends illustrates the pressing need for schools to teach these lessons as part of the national curriculum. Conference recognises the important contribution made by Theatre in Education to the teaching of various aspects of the curriculum and its value in particular to the teaching of challenging social and relationship issues.  Theatre in Education companies work with pupils by taking performances about particular educational topics or debates into schools and many also facilitate drama workshops or involve pupils in the performance itself. 

Conference believes that TIE could assist teachers to effectively teach this new part of the curriculum and therefore calls on the TUC to promote the commissioning of TIE as part of the Government’s campaign against domestic violence through education.


This Women's TUC conference is concerned that distorted depiction of sexual behaviour coupled with frequent scenes of gratuitous violence, both on the screen and in newspapers and magazines, may be influencing the behaviour of young people. Whilst in no way wishing to challenge the right to freedom of artistic expression, this conference calls upon broadcasters and editors to ensure a balanced picture of behaviour is represented in the media.  

We call upon Conference to ask broadcasters to look again at the existing guidelines on programming before the watershed, in order to assess their effectiveness and whether they need updating.


Sex discrimination has been illegal for many years but we have still to achieve a reasonable degree of parity. To discriminate on the grounds of age has more recently become illegal. Equity’s women members have always experienced discrimination in the latter form. Once over a ‘certain age’ women find themselves mostly limited to the sort of parts which consign them to the background. This is an injustice which affects all women workers, not just performers.

Equity asks Congress to lobby Scotland’s broadcasters to eliminate this injustice, to review the portrayal of women in the media and to redress the balance of employment opportunities for women so that we may become a more inclusive and enriched society.