Equity has agreed to reduce the number of its committees by almost a third, under radical proposals designed to streamline and modernise the union.
The new committee structure is intended to reflect the “key areas” that the industry is organised into rather than members’ individual skills. And the rules have been tightened for those wishing to become a member of a committee.
Those standing for any committee – apart from the national ones – must have worked in the relevant area in the past three years. Previously, there was no time limit in which this experience could have been accrued.
At this month’s meeting, the union’s ruling council voted to remove committees that represent skills – such as choreography, theatre designers, walk-ons and supporting artists – and instead introduce new ones that represent sections of the industry. This will decrease the total number from 26 to 18.
Three industrial committees have been created – one for stage, another for screen, and a third for variety, circus and entertainers. There will also be four industrial sub-committees that will advise the three overarching groups on specialist areas of knowledge. These will be grouped into audio, singers, stage management and the creative team.
The seven new groups will absorb most of the functions of the skills-based committees that have been lost. The models committee is the only one that will not be taken in by a new version.
However, five English area committees – in London, the Midlands, northern areas, the south-east and south-west – have been removed and will not be absorbed into any other group. Instead, an Equity referendum earlier in the year ruled that members from English area annual general meetings will be able to attend the union’s annual representative conference – which is normally a function of the committee.
For the first time, actors will now have guaranteed representation within a committee, with ten places reserved for their profession in both the stage and screen groups.
Equity’s committees for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as its four equality groups – for women, disability, minority ethnic, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members – and young members’ group will continue to operate as normal. As will the two deputies committees – for opera and the West End – and its stunt committee.
The changes will come into effect in July this year, after the committee members have been elected.