We're really excited to be back on the road for 2021. It's been a very challenging year and we're very happy to be creating job opportunities again, employing 16 actors this season!
Our recover is, in part, thanks to a generous grant from the Government and Arts Council
England via the Culture Recovery Fund. We're very grateful for their intervention to aid arts recovery after the huge losses created by the pandemic.
If you’ve read our programmes over the last few years, you may have noticed us banging on about Illyria being Equity-compliant - adhering to the rules for professional outdoor touring theatre set out by the actors’ union.
Illyria pays its actors a fair living wage, meeting the professional minimum. We provide good quality accommodation and a meal allowance, and we provide basic legal minimum rights such as holiday pay, overtime etc, where accrued.
Unfortunately, the stark fact is that a lot of companies operating in the outdoor touring theatre sector DO NOT do this. In fact, many pay their actors less than the National Minimum Wage and, in contravention with employment law, do not provide any of the rights mentioned above.
This allows these non-compliant companies to cut their overheads and reduce the fee they charge venues. This in turn has driven down the fees that all companies in the sector, Equity-compliant and non-compliant, can charge to venues, to a point where being Equity-compliant is almost unfeasible.
What's even more galling is that some of these companies also received assistance from the Culture Recovery Fund - using public money to rescue their company, whilst continuing to pay actors unacceptably low wages.
What can you do to help?
Our simple message is that you, the audience, should only ever support companies that are Equity-compliant and pay a fair living wage to their actors.
These companies, like us, will advertise their compliance loudly and proudly. Look for the Equity logo [see image] and don’t be fooled by companies using weasel-words on their website such as "committed to", “endeavouring for” or “working towards” Equity compliance. If they’re still endeavouring after so many years they can’t, in our opinion, be trying that conscientiously!
Compliance is binary – a company is either Equity-compliant, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then it’s not paying a fair living wage and certainly not a professional one, or providing their actors with the rights to which they are legally entitled.
If you feel strongly about these issues, you may like to raise your concerns with your local venues, or with the companies whose productions you see. Please think twice about spending your hard-earned money on a company that is unfairly, and illegally, exploiting its workers.
We're adamant that you shouldn’t be paying professional level ticket prices on a production that was advertised to you as professional, but which, for most definitions of the word “professional”, isn’t.
If you've read our blog post about the challenges of producing G&S shows, you'll recognise many of the discussion points in this blog. We're really happy to be bringing G&S back to our repertoire in 2021, but if you'd like to see us create more content like this, as well as brand new productions such as our tour of The Further Adventures of Doctor Dolittle, then get in touch with your venues to voice your support. Let them know how much you value our work and how much you value the work of actors who are paid well and treated properly. Tell them to only book Equity-compliant companies and not shows by companies that aren’t.
If you have any questions about this, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch here.
See you on the road soon!