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Equity announces new agreement for subsidised theatre

We have recently concluded negotiations for a new agreement in subsidised theatre.

Members who have worked on the agreement since it was last negotiated in 2019 were balloted on whether to accept or reject these new terms and conditions, and with 94% of members voting to accept. We can now confirm the improvements to your terms and conditions as detailed below on this page.

If you are currently working on a subsidised theatre agreement these new rates of pay, allowances and additional payments will apply to your current contract, and should be backdated to April 3rd 2023. If you have not yet received information from your producer about how backdating will work on your current contract, or if you have questions about whether this applies to you please email Equity’s Industrial Official for Theatre, Charlotte Bence:

Equity General Secretary Paul W Fleming, said:

"It’s testament to the strength of this deal that 94% of Equity members have voted to accept this new agreement for subsidised theatre. Equity staff and members involved in these negotiations have worked hard to address the issues members told us were the priorities – with strong percentage increases in minimum rates of pay, the payment of touring and subsistence allowance four weeks in advance, and good increases to swing and understudy payments all delivered with no concessions required in other areas.

"For the first time we have a guaranteed payment structure for members of the stage management team acting up into the responsibilities of a more senior grade, and upcoming joint work on the five day working week in the rehearsal period will deliver more positive changes to terms and conditions within the life of this agreement."

Kathy Bourne of UK Theatre's Subsidised Theatre Negotiations Working Party, said:  

"Given the current economic difficulties facing both UK Theatre and Equity members, these negotiations were always going to be difficult and challenging, and consequently it is particularly pleasing to note that the constructive dialogue and professionalism displayed by all parties in the negotiation process resulted in a settlement that was strongly supported by members of both organisations.

"We look forward to continuing to work closely with Equity to explore 5 day working in the rehearsal period. The theatres who have already confirmed their participation are Curve, Chichester Festival Theatre, Northern Stage, Sheffield Theatres, New Vic and Hull Truck."


Pay will rise by a guaranteed 12.49% over three years. Rates of pay from April 2023-April 2024 will rise by 5%, then 4% from April 2024 and at least 3% in April 2025. This will have the following impact on minimum rates:





2024 - 25


2025 - 26



5% 4% 3%
Performer / ASM Minimum





































































This deal takes us to April 2026, but we will negotiate over rates that will apply from April 2026 in the Spring of 2025 when the subsidised sector managers are preparing Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation applications, and equivalents in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This settlement is a stepping stone to the bigger set of negotiations we need to have to drive up pay further still. With budgets already set for 2023-2026 the scope to deliver significant rises here was always limited - but realignment with public funding settlements across the UK means we can, at last, break the pay barrier that has plagued subsidised theatre for decades.

Accommodation and allowances

The subsidised managers have agreed to undertake joint work with Equity to address the problems our members experience with the digs system. For the first time:

  • Equity will develop a code of conduct for minimum standards on digs
  • Venues will require digs providers to adhere to our minimum standards
  • Producers and engagers will take on more responsibility for the vetting of digs providers and supporting members in the event of issues
  • A new complaints procedure will be introduced so that hosts who do not offer accommodation of a standard that meets our code of conduct or behave in inappropriate ways will be removed from the venue digs list

Our Dignity in Digs campaign showed us that members’ main concerns with accommodation are the lack of oversight, and the lack of support when things go wrong. This changes that, and provides people working away from home with much better protection.

All touring and subsistence payments will now be paid four weeks in advance enabling you to ‘build up’ up the allowance for the payment of deposits, plus it means you can secure accommodation earlier and get a cheaper rate.

Touring allowances and subsistence rates will rise as follows:



3 April 2023 –

29 March 2024

1 April 2024 –

28 March 2025

29 March 2025 –

6 April 2026

Relocation Allowance





Touring Allowance





Commuting Allowance




Subject to CPI published Feb 2025*

Daily Touring Allowance




Out of pocket expenses /

Meal Allowance




Mileage Allowance


0.44 per mile

0.44 per mile

0.44 per mile

We are now seeking your views on what this code of conduct for digs providers should include. Please complete this short survey to share your views.

Responsibility Payments

When we consulted you on changes to this agreement, you told us that swings and understudies deserved much higher payments for the work they do. We made the case for this in negotiations and we have delivered significant increases to both swing payments, and understudy responsibility and performance payments.

Additionally, we know that members of the stage management team who act up to cover the duties of a more senior colleague also deserve better recognition and payment for carrying out that safety-critical work, and so we have also delivered a new structure that guarantees additional payment for your safety critical work.


3 April 2023 –

29 March 2024

1 April 2024 –

28 March 2025

29 March 2025 –

6 April 2026

Swing responsibility payment - per week




Understudy responsibility payment - for 2 roles – per week




Additional leading role responsibility payment – per week




Additional role (non leading) responsibility payment - per week













Understudy Performance Payment





Leading role/2 roles – per performance




Other roles – per performance








Flying per week




Dance Captain










3 April 2023 –

29 March 2024

1 April 2024 –

28 March 2025


29 March 2025 –

6 April 2026


1/8 of the weekly salary of the role they are covering, pro-rated per performance when they cover the role eg a Grade 2 SM rate is £530.20. 1/8 is £66.28. If a DSM covered an SM for one performance, they would be paid 1/8 of that weekly rate, which would be £8.29.  


Work/Life balance


We have secured a working party between SOLT/UK Theatre and Equity to trial a five day working week in the rehersal period across the west end, in commercial theatre and in the subsidised sector. However, the subsidised managers can move faster on this, and we already have six subsidised venues signed up to start these trials immediately. Those venues are: Northern Stage, Leicester Curve, Hull Truck, Sheffield Theatres, Chichester Festival Theatre and New Vic. Trials will be planned between UK Theatre and Equity, will cover a range of different production types (musicals, straight plays and so on) and will finish by Christmas of this year.

Crucially, a five day working week does not mean that the usual weekly rate of pay will decrease.   

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