Following our demo on 22 May, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Leeds, has decided to reverse its decision to lay off employees. Four employees (comprising two dancers and two creatives) will no longer be laid off from June 2022 to January January 2023 as was previously planned. Phoenix has now agreed to work with Equity on engaging with the union moving forward.
Approximately 100 people attended the demo to demand that the contemporary dance company reverse their decision to lay off dancers, as well as call for an end to the job precarity experienced by performing artists. The union also handed in a petition – which had gained nearly 2,000 signatures – calling on Phoenix Dance Theatre to save jobs. The campaign was covered by publications including Leeds Live, The Stage and Arts Professional.
Dominic Bascombe, Equity's Regional Official for North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, who represented Equity members affected, said:
"I am absolutely delighted that Phoenix Dance Theatre has decided to stop the layoffs of dancers and the creative team. We have tried our best to support them over the past few weeks and have coordinated a public campaign alongside the TUC Yorkshire team to raise the profile of the situation.
"They have been overwhelmed by the support of the public, trade unionists and fair minded people everywhere. When we stand together we can achieve. If you're not in a union, find one to join. If you are in a union already, be an activist. Thanks to everyone for your support."
The demo took place during our Annual Representative Conference (ARC) which was held in Leeds over Saturday 21 May — Monday 23 May. At ARC, an emergency motion was unanimously passed in favour of the union continuing to challenge Phoenix Dance Theatre management to treat staff fairly, reverse its decision on layoffs and engage in proper and meaningful negotiations.
Two of the affected Equity members who work for Phoenix Dance Theatre spoke at ARC and received a standing ovation, with one of the members saying that Phoenix couldn't expect them to survive on the pay offered while they are laid off, especially during the cost of living crisis.