Network formed to support ‘vulnerable’ storytellers
A new network for storytellers that will address issues specific to the role – including a lack of formal contracts and no official minimum pay rate – is being created by Equity.
This follows a motion passed at Equity’s Annual Representative Conference, urging the union to give storytellers an “identifiable voice”.
Storytellers are defined by Equity as performers who tell oral narratives to live audiences, as opposed to reading aloud from a book. They often perform at festivals or other outdoor events.
Proposing the motion, Eltjo de Vries of the Bristol and West General Branch claimed that many storytellers are unaware of Equity, or do not believe that the union represents them.
He said: “Storytellers remain vulnerable in their work. They often work alone on one or two-day events without formal contracts and with no recommended minimum rate for their work.
“Their rehearsals happen in their own time, and, as such, their preparation is typically unpaid, as is the amount of research they have to do.”
He added: “Their work is frequently misrepresented as spoken word, improvisation, stand-up comedy or book reading, none of which describes their process or their performance.”
Equity has also agreed to have a visible presence at this year’s two main storytelling festivals – Festival at the Edge in Shropshire and Beyond the Border in Cardiff – to recruit members.
Additionally, the union will explore membership recruitment possibilities with the Society for Storytelling, as well as storytellers’ magazine Facts and Fiction, and various Facebook and Twitter accounts.