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Spotlight survey – actors back low/no pay casting

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Casting service Spotlight has published results of a survey into whether its members approve of low pay/no pay work opportunities.

The survey was sent to Spotlight’s 50,000 members including performers and casting directors, and received more than 5,000 responses. It found that 71% of performers believe there is a place for low pay/no pay work in the entertainment industry, with 65.6% saying they do or would take on this kind of work themselves.

Meanwhile, 87.3% of casting professionals felt there was a place for opportunities paying below the national minimum wage, with nearly half of them saying they themselves had undertaken such opportunities. Just over half of respondents – 50.2% – said they believed low pay/no pay opportunities should continue to be advertised via Spotlight.

Ben Seale, managing partner of Spotlight, said: “A key message from casting professionals and performers is that Spotlight is a vehicle for casting information, and our role is not to try to change the law, or pretend this work doesn’t exist. Rather, they would prefer to make their own decisions about the projects they get involved with. Spotlight’s responsibility is to keep a close eye on industry trends and continue to reflect customer requirements in the services which it offers.

“It is my belief that by asking casting professionals to be up front with pay categories on Spotlight, we are bringing an element of transparency to the issue, rather than pushing low pay/no pay work ‘underground’ or on to other less reputable casting websites, where it is more likely to be abused. It is important for the industry to understand the extent of the issue, and we can only do this if we have visibility on how much unpaid/low paid work is currently out there.”

He added the service would now be “exploring better ways in which low/unpaid casting opportunities can be better presented on Spotlight”.

Performers’ union Equity welcomed the fact that Spotlight had carried out the survey. Assistant general secretary Stephen Spence said: “It is great to see that Spotlight openly acknowledges the issues surrounding low pay and no pay work. The results of their survey are highly informative for all of us working towards potential solutions to this controversial issue.

“There is little Spotlight can do on its own to change the fundamental issue that low and unpaid work exists in our industry, and it is not their role to act as a censor. We are pleased that Spotlight is fully supporting our Film School Agreement, which will really help to tackle the unfair low pay and no pay work frequently offered by film schools using Spotlight. We will continue to work closely with Spotlight on similar initiatives to stamp out other unfair work of this nature.”

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