Minutes of Leeds & Region General Branch Meeting Sat 27th Jan 2018

Minutes of the Equity Leeds & Region General Branch Meeting held on Saturday 27th January 2018 in Meeting Room 1 at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds at 2pm.

Present: Lee Toomes (Chair), Carolyn Eden, Ben Addis, Leanne Rowley, Jan Morgan, Rachel Dale, Julia O’Keefe, Emma Leah Golding, Margareta Seabo, Paula Henstock, Suzy Martell, Katie Simpson, Cynthia H Rover, Pete Keal, Kymberley Cochrane, Gordon G Steff


Apologies: Anthony Blakesley, Caroline Vella, Peter H Sharp, Helen Lewis, Rob Kelso


Welcome: The Chair welcomed everyone to the Meeting and swiftly introduced this week’s Guest Speaker Amy Leach (West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Director).


AL spoke about the new purpose of WYP under James Brining – a creative eco-system consisting of: 1) The Plays on the stages. 2) The Creative Engagement dept (largest outside Royal National Theatre). 3) FURNACE – the programme to ‘develop artists and projects.’


Amy talked about the Furnace Social Club as a means of bringing artists together and rejuvenating the WYP’s old Artists’ Network. Members of Furnace (see website to sign up) are entitled to:

  • Ticket deals on in-house productions (x2 £5 tickets for previews) and 20% discount for rest of run, with other offers for various nights.
  • Free rehearsal space – depending on availability.
  • Events – Socials, parties, board games nights
  • ‘Make it Happen’ sessions – Tax Advice, Taking work to Edinburgh, Movements sessions etc


General auditions at WYP were discussed – with Al advocating a new model incorporating a more thorough workshop element, so that the actors come away having gained something. Greater transparency of casting with info available on the WYP website is also planned.


AL outlined the redevelopment and re-opening of WYP in 2019 with new entrances (“a more open and porous building”) greater accessibility, larger Courtyard and new Studio theatre. Members were then invited to ask questions and Amy answered queries on Summer sublets; seat dedications; Fringe work - Low Pay/No Pay. Plans for the Ensemble who will work with WYP throughout the re-development were outlined: ideally locally based and northern; split 4/4 male/female – more info to be disseminated shortly.


The Chair thanked Amy L for addressing the meeting and moved on to:


Minutes/Matters arising:


  • The minutes of our Sept meeting were accepted as being a true record of the meeting (thanks to Caroline Vella).
  • LT spoke about Equity’s new ‘Cast it Here’ campaign especially in relation to our branches efforts to increase/improve casting opportunities in Yorkshire.
  • PK brought up the fact that there are many Pride events happening in and around Leeds as well as the annual Aug ‘Leeds Pride’ and asked if we could find ways to support such events. It was agreed the committee would discuss this.
  • LT spoke about efforts being made to arrange a screening of ‘The Acting Class’ and how discussions about dates and a venue were continuing. PK asked about the possibility of a screening in libraries.
  • The ARC is fast approaching and we need to draft our motion for this year. The deadline is (March 12th?) our next meeting will be March 5th so suggestions should be made asap in order for them to be discussed prior to voting.
  • Our provisional Guest Speaker for next meeting will be casting director Peter Hunt (CD on Hollyoaks & Head of Casting for Lime Pictures UK).
  • Pete Keal proposed the following motion:


‘Artists’ Union England’s campaign for the appointment of Ms Elisabeth Murdoch to Arts Council England’s National Council to be rescinded on the grounds stated in their letter to Sir Nicholas Serota – https://www.artistsunionengland.org.uk/letter-to-nicholas-serota-re-elisabeth-murdoch-and-ace

We further call on the Council to make its opposition to this appointment known to both the Chair and Chief Executive of Arts Council England, to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and to the Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.’


      Members discussed the motion, it was seconded by Jan Morgan and carried unanimously.


  • The meeting moved on to TUC affiliations. It was agreed that the branch would renew its existing affiliations with Eleanor Dearle at Barnsley TUC, Pete Keal at Calderdale and Anthony Blakesley at Doncaster and District. It was also agreed that Suzy M would represent our branch at York & District TUC. Julia O’Keefe expressed interest in being delegate to Bradford or Keighley – PK and BA offered to talk more about what this would involve. After a year representing the branch at Leeds TUC Ben Addis said he no longer felt able to do this and would attempt to find a replacement.
  • Feedback was given on the recent ‘Make it Happen’ tax session as part of Furnace. Members felt that some conflicting and possibly inaccurate advice came from the tax expert on hand who was apparently not an arts accounting specialist. It was agreed to consult more Equity members who attended for their thoughts, and along with thanks for organising the events, to liaise with Furnace organisers to see if we could arrange a more specialist presence if the event runs again. LT made the point that members should do all they can to take up the opportunity of these workshops etc, as we need to show there is a need / desire for them so they don’t drop off.



  • BA read an email from Matt Hood outlining rule changes for branches to nominate and support candidates for election to council. A link to the new rules will be included in the next newsletter.
  • Anthony Blakesley had asked for the issue of Louise Harrison of South Yorkshire Women’s Aid to be brought up. Members were directed towards the news story and an online petition.


TUC Matters:

  • PK spoke about the work of the ‘TUC Yorkshire and the Humber Creative and Leisure Industries Committee.’


Members Concerns:

Members expressed dismay at hearing Kay Mellor in a recent interview talking about celebrities working in theatre saying: “Sometime you go and see something and you go “well, who are they all?” The issues of people only working on stage if they are famous faces was discussed.


Any Other Business:



The film ‘Official Secrets,’ is currently casting and will be filming in and around Bradford in the coming months.

York Theatre Royal are casting for the new (temporary) Shakespeare’s RoseTheatre for Summer 2018


Next Meeting - Mon 5th March 2pm at Holbeck Underground Ballroom (HUB), Leeds..


Closure: The Chair closed the meeting at _______ pm.