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Directors’ rates to increase by more than 20% under landmark pay deal

Thomas Hescott. Photo: Robert Workman

Theatre directors’ minimum rates will increase by more than 20% by 2021 under new agreements that saw union Equity and trade body Stage Directors UK work together for the first time.

Equity and SDUK said the increases would be of particular benefit to “vulnerable” members at the beginning of their careers.

The two organisations worked together despite previous disagreements, which saw SDUK claiming it could better represent the needs of directors at its launch.

Equity and SDUK clash over who best represents directors [1]

Following the latest negotiations, pay across the board will increase, for members working in the West End, and in the subsidised and commercial sectors regionally.

Under the deal reached with West End managers, directors working in the biggest West End venues will benefit from increased rates of up to £1,023 by 2021, to £5,770 a show.

Minimum rates will increase for West End directors by 5% every year until 2021, beginning with a rise of 5% backdated to August 1, 2018. By the end of the period, pay will have increased by 21.6% on the current rates.

Under the terms reached with directors working in commercial theatre, there will be a 6% increase this year, with rises of 5% every year until 2021. This will mean an increase of up to £937.54 by 2021. Each minimum pay bracket will increase by 22.7% on current rates.

Those working in subsidised theatres will have increases of 5% annually until 2021, equating to an increase of up to £683.90, up by 21.6% on current rates.

Equity’s head of live performance Hilary Hadley said: “Equity is delighted to have entered into new agreements with the managers for directors which are of very real financial benefit, particularly to directors who are new to the profession or who are working at theatres with very tight budget constraints and find themselves unable to negotiate above the minimum rate.”

She added: “Minimum fees are however just that, and it is Equity’s expectation that directors and their agents will also find their individual negotiations significantly boosted by these increases. For those engaged on the minimum, it represents very real and very necessary cash in hand now.”

SDUK executive director Thomas Hescott said the agreements showed how the unions and trade organisations “can work together”, while retaining independence.

“These agreements are just the starting point, and represent a good deal for our most vulnerable members – directors in the early stages of their careers. We will be working alongside Equity to ensure all directors and all agents know the content of the agreements in order to ensure they are being implemented across the sector,” he added.