Equity members - make your voice heard at local elections

On Thursday 5 May local elections will be taking place across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is an opportunity for registered voters across the UK to have their say about important decisions facing our communities, such as housing and transport, and crucially who should represent you in government.

Where are elections taking place?

  • All 90 seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly are up for grabs.
  • All the councils in Scotland and Wales are being contested and some councils in England.
  • There are four new councils - unitary authorities in North Yorkshire and Somerset and two in Cumbria.
  • The Mayor of South Yorkshire is also being elected as are six other local authority mayors. 

The Democracy Club have created a very helpful online checker - “Who Can I Vote For?” – where you can find out about the elections taking place in your area and the candidates standing. You can also contact your local Electoral Registration Office to find out if you’re already registered to vote.

Why is local government important for our industry?

The funding situation for councils has changed dramatically over the last decade. For example, the latest Arts Index figures revealed that local government expenditure for the arts in England has fallen by 43% since 2008.  Despite this challenging backdrop, local councils remain a vital source of funding for our industry. They have a huge role to play in providing employment opportunities for Equity members across a broad range of settings, such as local theatres, schools and care homes. This enormous set of elections also provides a mid-term snapshot of the national political mood and can help shape the priorities of UK Government across a range of different issues.

What can Equity members do?

Equity isn’t affiliated to any political party, but we believe it is crucial that our members vote and make their voices heard.  The main political parties will have already published their manifestos. However, there is still time to reach out to local candidates and demand that they commit to protecting and promoting the creative industries and its workforce in order to win your vote. 

Below is a list of key demands you could be making to your local candidate:

  • Stop cuts to local authority arts budgets and restore lost local authority arts departments. Campaign for arts spending to become a statutory requirement for all local authorities.
  • Provide free or affordable spaces for creative workers including artists, variety performers, circus entertainers, musicians, and theatre performers in your borough.
  • Ensure that planning policies place value on cultural spaces and community pubs, clubs and other venues providing work for entertainers.
  • Ensure that all spending on culture and entertainment in your borough is conditional on the use of industry standard union terms and conditions.
  • Allocate funding for live performance in public spaces, in care homes and throughout the community in your borough.
  • Attract film, television and new media jobs to your borough and make sure that producers create jobs which are available to local creative workers, including by running local castings and recruitment.
  • Establish inclusive, artistic and socially based criteria for arts funding, placing decisions in the hands of artists and audiences.

In addition to these local policies, candidates should be campaigning for the UK Government to:

  • Reform funding bodies into regional structures to help redistribute funding as part of the UK Government’s levelling up agenda.
  • Introduce a Minimum Income Guarantee for creative workers in every region and nation of the UK.
  • Abandon plans to privatise Channel 4 and stop attacking UK public service media.
  • Accelerate the regionalisation of public service broadcasting, generating greater content and opportunities across the UK.
  • Fix the Brexit chaos with a regime for visas and work permits that allows creative professionals to tour freely.