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New London fringe venue vows to pay minimum wage to actors

Cog ArtSpace in Islington has promised to pay actors and creative staff minimum wage. Photo: Andrea Lops
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A new 50-seat flexible theatre space is to launch its first full programme of work in north London in October, with the venue saying that all actors and creative staff will be paid the minimum wage.

Cog ArtSpace is located above the De Beauvoir Arms pub in Islington and will programme theatre, comedy, spoken word and live events. It has hosted events since July but will officially launch with Soulless, devised by Anonymous is a Woman Theatre Company from October 15 to November 8.

The theatre’s artistic director, Jonny Collis, said the venue – which cost £15,000 to convert – will largely receive shows, but will also programme some in-house work.

Collis, who has previously worked as an actor and director, said he would ensure that all performers and creative staff were paid the national minimum wage at the venue. To achieve this, he said the venue would not accept any profit-share productions and would instead look to hire and produce shows on a box office split.

He said the venue would not charge rental fees for using the space to perform in the evenings but it would cost £400 per week to rent it for rehearsals during the day, with discounts for local artists and good causes.

Collis added that he wanted to improve conditions for actors in terms of London venues’ high rental charges.

“The playing field needs to level a bit between what the artists do and what the venues are providing. For a three-week run of a show, it’s the artists who are doing the work; the venue is just there hosting it. The venues get paid first and the artists suffer. When people are working on profit-share, there is no profit because they have to fund the £4,000 to pay the venue first before the artists get a look in,” said Collis.

He added: “I would like this new space to change the way a lot of venues approach taking on theatre groups.”

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