A code of practice has been developed for producers of touring shows and venues around the UK. It urges a more robust approach to dealing with cancelled productions and calls for swifter payments between parties.
The code is included within a new handbook produced by UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre in response to growing concern that relationships between producers and venues are becoming strained.
Discussions at a touring symposium in 2018 focused on financial pressures, and “an erosion of trust and transparency”.
The new handbook aims to help the two sides “build stronger relationships to improve the long-term health of touring in the UK”.
Seven key areas of concern are raised in the handbook, and covered within these are concerns about “unexplained royalty hikes by producers” and how the deal-making process fails to address tour cancellation”.
In the past year, a tour of Doctor Dolittle collapsed after just two months, while a run of To Kill a Mockingbird was also pulled, leaving venues with holes in their schedules.
In recommended actions, the handbook suggests that every agreement should cover every component that “has the potential to a) reduce income or b) increase costs to either party”. UK theatre said it would also be exploring development of guidance on cancellation clauses.
The code of practice calls on venues and producers to “treat one another with honesty and respect with an emphasis on timeliness and transparency in negotiation and communication”.
The initial agreement, it states, should clearly “state the policy for, and financial consequences of, cancellation by either party”.
Parties should also agree a schedule of regular communication to “track the show’s progress, respond to sales, discuss any unexpected changes and anticipate issues”.
After a tour, the code says box office return should be sent to producers “within two working days of the final performance”, with a settlement statement sent to producers no less than 20 working days after a final show. This should be paid within 30 days of the last performance.
The handbook was developed by Rachel Tackley and Vicky Graham and is available on UK Theatre’s website.