Equity launches ‘groundbreaking’ pay policy for dancers

Arthur Pita's Stepmother, commissioned by DanceEast with HeadSpaceDance. Photo: Ambra Vernuccio Arthur Pita's Stepmother, commissioned by DanceEast with HeadSpaceDance. Photo: Ambra Vernuccio
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Equity has launched what it has labelled a “groundbreaking” policy to tackle low pay and poor working conditions in dance.

The agreement covers commissions by agency DanceEast, but the union hopes it will pave the way for other commissioning companies and bodies to commit to improving pay and conditions in the sector.

The policy agreed with DanceEast includes requirements that pay rates should be at least those agreed between Equity and the Independent Theatre Council, as well as obligations to provide adequate time for choreographers to apply for additional funding when a commission does not cover all the producing costs.

It also focuses on equality, promising to extend DanceEast’s equal opportunities policy to all work produced through commissions and guarantee the provision of high-quality facilities for rehearsal, according to Equity and One Dance UK’s Fit to Dance Space charter.

Equity dance councillor Nick Keegan said commissions were increasingly being advertised by institutions that expect projects to be delivered on “insufficient budgets and in very short timeframes”.

“The people who suffer from these commissions are always the performers and choreographers who end up working in unacceptable conditions, whether for low pay or no pay, unreasonable hours, unpaid overtime, lack of holiday pay or unsafe working environments.

“DanceEast has a reputation as a responsible dance employer and commissioning body. I am delighted to see it working with Equity to develop this new policy and be industry leaders for responsible commissioning,” he said.

The policy is being taken up immediately by DanceEast and applies to all commissions it awards.

DanceEast artistic director and chief executive Brendan Keaney said it was “really good news” that Equity had identified the issue as a priority and said he hoped other companies would follow suit.