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Three-way battle for Equity presidency

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West End actor Malcolm Sinclair is standing to become Equity president in the union’s forthcoming elections, where he will compete with incumbent Graham Hamilton and variety councillor Dave Eager.

Nominations for the presidency have now closed, with ballot papers due to be sent out to all Equity members on June 2. Polls will close on July 14 and results are expected shortly after that date.

If elected, Sinclair, who is currently vice-president of the union, would be the most high-profile stage actor to hold the post of Equity president in many years. Like Sinclair, Eager and Hamilton have both served as vice-president in the past.

Sinclair, whose recent credits include The Power of Yes at the National Theatre and Ivanov for the Donmar’s West End season, claimed his status as a working actor would be of benefit to the union.

“I am in a very lucky position in that I work, and I think a president who is in the rehearsal room, in the theatre, on location or in a studio can feed back to [Equity headquarters] Guild House what is going on and keep the profession in touch with its union. That’s really why I want to stand,” he said.

“The union itself at the moment is going into a rather good stage, and I think we can build on that by getting the profession and Guild House closer together. A president in the middle of the profession can help with that.”

Sinclair added he was standing as an independent in the elections, despite having been associated with ruling party the Representative Group for many years, and claimed the time of separate ‘political parties’ within Equity was “coming to an end”.

Eager said he too would be standing as an independent in the June elections. Eager, who will also be fighting to be re-elected as variety councillor, standing as a member of the opposition group Members4Members, said a president should not be aligned to one faction.

“As a president you are president of all members, regardless. I am totally independent and am having everything to do with every group, and nothing to do with every group,” he said.

Eager, who has had a long career in light entertainment, revealed he wanted to “inject a bit of fun” back into the presidency role and added he wanted to put “radical enthusiasm back into what the president should be”.

In the supporting statement he presented with his application to stand for the post, Eager highlighted how he intends to ensure that “younger members’ enthusiasm is encouraged and nurtured into being active in Equity”, while “long-serving members are valued for their professional experience”.

Hamilton, who has been president for two years, is best known for having appeared as Fagin in the West End production of Oliver!. He said he had “the most experience” and added he was standing for a second term to “complete the vital work” he has started with general secretary Christine Payne. He is standing as the Representative Group candidate.

“Equity has shown in relation to theatre cuts, West End pay and its Manifestos for Theatre and Television that it is moving forward, and I want to continue to lead that fight. Unlike one of the other candidates, I have always believed, along with the founders of Equity, that Equity should be a strong, effective trade union rather than a weak, ineffectual professional association. If re-elected, I will continue to be a hands-on president for all our members and not just the established actors or only the variety artists,” he said.

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