Equity has over 300 members who work as storytellers. Storytelling can take place virtually anywhere - festivals and events; theatres; schools and libraries; pubs, clubs and restaurants and public open spaces.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is a traditional artform, which is oral and not written. Stories are designed to be passed on by mouth and told interactively with an audience.
A definition from Storytellers of Ireland sums it up as:
‘Storytelling is an intimate and interactive art. A storyteller tells from memory rather than reading from a book. A tale is not just the spoken equivalent of a literary short story. It has no set text but is endlessly re-created in the telling. The listener is an essential part of the storytelling process. For stories to live, they need the hearts, minds and ears of listeners. Without the listener there is no story.'
Equity Storytellers’ Network
The Network was set up in September 2020. All meetings have been held virtually via Zoom due to lockdown restrictions. Meetings are likely to continue online as it allows more members to stay involved without the need to travel. Meetings in person will take place at storytellers’ festivals and events around the UK when they are running again.
The work so far
A working party was set up to look at the issue of rates paid within the industry and an advisory document will be available soon.
Another working party produced a document to assist members with advice on how to avoid cultural appropriation.
Download our cultural appropriation policy (pdf)
Advising members on the pandemic and what work they are allowed to do under changing government restrictions and local lockdowns. Also advising on government and other help that's available for members in financial difficulty.
Benefits of Equity membership for storytellers
The primary function of a union is to negotiate collective agreements with employers, covering pay and conditions. A union can also use its collective strength to represent its members’ interests with government and other bodies and bulk purchase products such as insurance.
Individual benefits that are relevant to storytellers:
- Public liability insurance – this covers freelance performers if they cause injury to a member of the audience or cause damage to property while working up to £10million.
- Accident and backstage cover insurance – covers work-related accidents and provides a fixed weekly payment of £150 from the third week of incapacity. Covers damage or loss to work possessions (note limits and exclusions).
- Legal assistance – while working on Equity or non-Equity contracts or for cancellation and non-payment matters or for personal injury claims when working.
- Tax, National Insurance and welfare benefit advice – Equity provides a specialist helpline on Mondays and Thursdays for members needing advice on these issues.
- Equity Pension scheme – is available and contributions are made by employers who issue Equity contracts.
How to join
If you are not yet a member, to be eligible to join Equity you need to have earned at least £500 as a performer from any time in your career.
The current minimum annual subscription is £142 and there is additionally a £33 entrance fee which you pay once when you first join.
There is a £5 discount for paying by direct debit. If you choose to pay by monthly direct debit, for example, then the first payment would be £44.42 as it includes the entrance fee and following that would be £11.42 per month. These rates are current until at least the end of 2021.
If you have recently graduated from a full-time performing arts course you may be eligible for Graduate Membership which is at significantly lower cost and proof of work is not required.
You can join sign up to become an Equity member on our website. During the online joining process, you'll need to upload documents showing your proof of work such as contracts or email correspondence during the process. In the Employer section put details down of your most recent job.
Get involved with the network
To be part of the Equity Storytellers’ Network email Equity staff Michael Day on email@example.com or Simon Curtis on firstname.lastname@example.org.