Jermyn Street Theatre has become the latest venue to sign a wage agreement with Equity, which guarantees actors and stage managers national minimum wage pay.
The union’s fringe agreement, which was reworked in April 2014 to tackle low pay in the sector, guarantees the minimum wage for every hour of work, including rehearsals and performances, as well as paid holiday and proper breaks.
Both in-house productions and visiting productions will be subject to the agreement, which will form the basis of contracts for all performers and stage managers from September 2015.
The fringe agreement is part of Equity’s Professionally Made Professionally Paid campaign, launched last year following the appointment of Equity’s first industrial organiser for low pay no pay , Emmanuel de Lange.
De Lange said: “I’m delighted that Jermyn Street Theatre has joined the group of Professionally Made Professionally Paid venues. It’s great news for our members working there, and an important step towards a fairer fringe.”
He told The Stage that Jermyn Street’s in-house productions have “a long track record of paying at or above this sort of level, so it is making that concrete and giving us the mechanism for enforcing those protections”.
He said that for visiting companies however, the agreement would mark a “significant change in their way of working”, adding: “This is going to deliver concrete improvements for members working in that theatre.”
De Lange also described the fringe agreement as “the first step in the process”, building up to Independent Theatre Council rates or commercial theatre rates.
“The second clause in the agreement is a commitment to work towards membership of an appropriate management body and use of an industry standard agreement. We never sign an agreement saying that they can pay at those very low rates for ever.”
The theatre is the 15th to sign up to Equity’s fringe agreement, following in the footsteps of venues such as the King’s Head Theatre and the Hope Theatre.
Jermyn Street artistic director Anthony Biggs said: “As an Equity member myself for more than 20 years I have huge respect for actors and stage managers. They are the life-blood of theatre, and they deserve to be paid fairly and treated properly.”