Equity has this week secured landmark union agreement with The Playhouse in Derry-Londonderry, making it the first ever in-house theatre agreement in Northern Ireland outside Belfast.
The Playhouse follows In Your Space Circus (IYSC), after the circus school and street theatre company siigned an in-house agreement last month.Both agreements break new ground in Derry-Londonderry and the West of Northern Ireland, formalising minimum rates of pay for professionals equivalent to the industry standard.
The new agreements set out overall maximum working hours, holiday entitlements and reference to dignity at work policies covering all professional performers working on their productions. They demonstrate a recognition of professionalism of the sector and the appreciation of positive trades union relations.
Both agreements follow extensive, positive negotiations with Equity during 2022 and into 2023, which coincided with active Equity organising in the West of NI. This included an event in the Guildhall entitled ‘Your Role, Your Value’, activism meetings with Equity members living and working in and around Derry-Londonderry and an enhanced Union presence in the city and surrounding areas.
Alice Adams Lemon, Equity’s Northern Ireland National Official, said:
“This truly is a big day, and month, for Equity and creatives in the West of Northern Ireland.
"Our members deserve decent pay and conditions just like workers in any other sectors, and these companies are leading the way in the city’s theatre and circus world and beyond!
"Audiences coming to The Playhouse and In Your Space shows can feel reassured that they are supporting their creative workers and in turn supporting talented, local, creative work within and for their communities.
"We look forward to more of the area’s live performance producers following in their footsteps.”
Cath McBride, Company Director of In Your Space, said:
“IYSC is delighted to have signed the first Equity agreement in Derry City, reinforcing that artists experience fair and equitable terms and conditions while working with us. This is a further step forward for IYSC in ensuring the proper treatment of artists.
"For a number of years we have been advocating for the individual artist community and we pride ourselves on providing space and opportunities for local talent to play, take risks and thrive.
"We are passionate about the arts ecosystem in Derry, and ensuring the City is viewed as a creative, sustainable and joyful place to work and live for artists.”
Kevin Murphy, CEO at The Playhouse, said:
"We have always prided ourselves in paying Equity rates to our professional performers and we are delighted to create a bespoke agreement that cements these existing terms, as well as building a new bespoke template for members of The Playhouse Music Theatre Company.
"Derry-Londonderry has a long tradition of rights-based work and solidarity and we’re proud to strengthen this practice with Equity both locally here, regionally across NI and nationally.”
For more information about this news or Equity's work in Northern Ireland, contact Alice Adams Lemon.