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Actors reject UK theatre jobs over low pay
Nearly half of the performers responding to an Arts Council survey of allowances in UK theatres say they are turning down work because pay levels are so low, according to a new survey by the actors’ union Equity.

The research was principally about how much performers need to support themselves when working away from home. Over two hundred Equity members working in regional theatre responded to the Arts Council’s survey — most were actors, though a minority were stage managers.

The survey looked at the costs of touring for a four-week period. It found that living costs ranged from £21 to £670.40 weekly, and the weekly cost of keeping in contact with home and family cost between £1.25 and £220, with the higher for those with children.

The total cost of working away from home ranged from £34.65 to £497.32. Allowances in subsidised repertory theatre are currently £82 a week when working away from home in a single theatre and £125 a week when on tour.

Equity’s head of Theatre and Variety, Christine Payne, commented: “I think that the entire theatre world should be alarmed by the finding that 47 per cent of actors responding to the survey had turned down work in regional producing theatres because allowances are too small.

“Regional theatre is frequently described as being an essential part of the cultural fabric of British life. How much longer will this be true if actors are not paid enough to persuade them to work there?”

Equity will be discussing the research with the Theatrical Management Association and calling for substantial increases in allowances.

Fri May 4 2001 (2:52:54 PM)