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Equity calls for better policing at shows facing protests

Terry Victor at the Equity ARC 2015 Terry Victor at the Equity ARC 2015
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Equity is calling for greater police presence when performances are threatened by protests.

It follows the closure of the Barbican’s production Exhibit B last September due to escalating protests at the event.

A motion opposing censorship was passed at the union’s Annual Representative Conference, which called on Equity to seek guarantees there will be “sufficient police resource” when productions are facing protests, in order to prevent their early closure.

Putting forward the motion, Brian Eastly, from the union’s Essex General Branch, said it was a “regrettable precedent for performers’ rights to artistic expression to be curtailed for the sole reason… of people gathering at entrances to theatres, with the sole purpose of preventing these things from happening”.

He claimed there “always seems to be enough police available” to attend protests against fracking or the eviction of traveller communities, but said arts events were not given the same consideration.

“What the membership of this union does not need is another reminder that it is a poor relation when it comes to the allocation of public funds,” he added.

In a separate motion, members also moved unanimously to reassert Equity’s “unequivocal” support for the freedom of artistic expression as “a matter of utmost cultural importance”.

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