06 April 2020
Since the abrupt closure of theatres throughout the UK on March 16th due to the COVID- 19 period of restriction and lockdown Equity has worked together with all the Engagers to ensure that wherever possible Equity members continued to receive some sort of financial support during this immediate first period of closure and wherever possible to keep productions and casts intact and performance ready when life returns to normal.
In the Commercial Theatre sector we have worked with both SOLT and UK Theatre to arrive at holding arrangements both for the West End Theatres and the Commercial productions touring Venues throughout the UK. Equity agreed with SOLT a holding arrangement to apply for four weeks from the 16th March to April 13th with a sum equal to two and a half weeks of the applicable minimum salary based on size of theatre payable to each Performer and Stage Management spread over the four week period. For UK Commercial Theatre the sum was equivalent to two weeks of the applicable minimum rehearsal salary over the same period. Producers were advised to implement these agreements during this four week holding period and whilst the terms of Government support for theatre workers was clarified.
Equity has commenced further discussions with SOLT and UK Theatre as to the arrangements that will apply after April 13th.
We entered into a separate agreement for the Subsidised Theatre sector which is for a longer period due to the ongoing future consequences brought about by COVID-19 and the need for long term planning. For the period up to 31st May, Performers and Stage Management whose contracts had, or would have started during this period but have or will be cancelled by the manager because of circumstances brought about by COVID 19, will be entitled to receive a minimum payment equivalent to 3 weeks at 80% of the applicable MRSL.
Many Subsidised Theatre Producers have already arrived at local agreements to help those who contracts had started in excess of these minimum terms.
For the period from 1 June 2020 to 6 April 2021 the following has been agreed to cover the cancellation of contracts because of the circumstances brought about by COVID-19. If more than 4 weeks notice is given no payment will be due, if between 2 and 4 weeks a minimum payment of at least the applicable MRSL, if less than 2 weeks either the lesser of 2 weeks at the applicable MRSL or the applicable MRSL for the remaining duration of the contract.
This Agreement has been made during this period of intense uncertainty to give Theatres the ability and confidence to contract Performers and Stage Managers and schedule productions to take place once the restrictions are lifted.
For members engaged on ITC Contracts, three weeks of the ITC minimum has been paid, and negotiations have taken place with each and every Fringe Producer working on the Fringe Agreement to ensure that the best possible arrangements have applied to each production cancelled.
We have been monitoring the position for Directors, Designers and other creative team members whose contracts have been interrupted by the crisis to ensure contractual rights are protected.
We’ve also held negotiations on behalf of members working on the Union’s house agreements at companies like The Globe, The National and the RSC to protect members’ income and ensuring their productions or their seasons have the best chance of going ahead later this year, as well as dealing with our freelance members specific issues in our Standing Companies who are not able to access the Government furlough scheme for employees
These negotiations for members have been unprecedented, at a time when the entire Theatre industry has suffered great damage due to COVID-19, with both the devastating and immediate effect is has had on our members earnings and the Producers ability to pay, with collapsed box office and calls for refunds. Continued working together with a shared vision of a future healthy Theatre Industry is needed to see us through these terrible times.
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