Since the founding of the branch in 2007, we have always been a very active, campaigning branch. We are always keen to punch above our weight as a branch and establish links and dialogue with individuals and organisations across our region and the nation.
These are just some of the campaigns that we've been involved with:
Save the Bristol Old Vic
The Bristol and West General Branch formed as a result of the Bristol Old Vic closure and Arts Council cuts in 2007. Since then the branch has maintained a keen interest in the BOV's direction and development.
Mental Health support for members - Arts & Minds initiative
Moved by the deaths by suicide of a number of entertainment professionals; including Richard Gent and Colin Tarrant, who both had links to the South West, our branch submitted a motion to Equity's 2014 Annual Representative conference calling for more support for members suffering from depression and other mental health problems. This call coincided with a similar motion from the East of Scotland General Branch and calls from others within the industry. The Arts and Minds initiative has now been developed as a collaboration between Equity, Spotlight, and The Stage. Our branch, East of Scotland and representatives from BAPAM, along with Equity staff members developed a plan to increase support to members. You can find the website here:
Regional Arts Funding - Fight Against Bristol Arts Cuts
In February 2014 branch members became aware a Bristol Labour Councillor had proposed a budget amendment in Bristol which would a cut £100k in arts funding from a £1.1 million budget (just under 10%) and was despite the fact that in 2013 the Branch had received a letter from the Mayor of Bristol assuring us that funding wold be secure.
Branch members were quickly mobilised along with other Bristol Arts Practitioners to oppose the cuts. The pressure was considerable and confirmation was received that the Labour Group had withdrawn the amendment. This was excellent news and testament to the power of local organising and Equity staff and members working together.
Whiteladies Picture House
The Picture House on Whiteladies Road in Bristol is a Grade II listed building, which opened in 1921. It originally housed 1,300 people in the main auditorium and was built in the Art Deco style of the era with marble pillars and floors, an original sprung ballroom and ornate plasterwork. The cinema has been closed since 2001. Our branch has pledged our support to the Whiteladies Picture House campaign, who are proposing to reopen the Picture House as a centre for the arts, where cinema, theatre, comedy and a multitude of different performing arts can thrive. This campaign has been in the face of opposition from the current owners who have previously wanted to convert the building into flats and a gym.
Keep Casualty in Bristol
Casualty had been filmed in Bristol since 1986 and pumped £24.7 million a year into the local economy. Members of the Bristol and West General Branch of Equity had been campaigning to keep production in the city since rumours of the move began in May 2008. The BBC confirmed in March 2009 that production of Casualty would definitely move from Bristol to Cardiff by 2011.