Producers will have to meet the “hidden” cost of designers’ model boxes, under a new pay agreement that will see rates increase by 5.2% over an 18-month period.
It comes as the union implements a new package of terms and conditions for designers, after negotiating with Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre.
The deal will see minimum fees rise by 5.2% over an 18 month period, with an immediate increase of 2.7%, followed by a further increase of 2.5% in April of this year.
Producers will have to pay designers for materials and the cost of employing assistants, which has previously come out of designers’ fee in some cases.
The new terms will also offer greater transparency across agreements for travel and expenses, and “clarity around the terms for recording of work for broadcast”.
Equity’s directors and designers’ committee representative Max Jones said: “This is a great step forward in our collected efforts towards establishing fairer rates of pay for all designers in the theatre industry.
“We are aware of the current inadequacy of designers’ fees in the UK relative to hours worked; however, the ‘hidden’ production costs of the set design process have become equally impossible to bear.
“These can often amount to hundreds of pounds out of a set designer’s own pocket, per production.”
“It is a relief to know that from this point on we should expect the cost of assistant design support to be fully acknowledged and covered by the producer and production,” he added.
The negotiations saw Equity work alongside the Association of Lighting Designers and the Society of British Theatre Designers.
Chair of the committee Robbie Butler, who is also a lighting designer said: “We recognise the conclusion of these negotiations represents progress, but there is still some work to be done on minimum rates.
“We need a rethink on how designers in theatre are paid: breaking down the fee into design creation, design realisation and design usage, so that both the individual and the engager can benefit from a more transparent payment structure.”
The committee will be putting a call out to all designers, requesting that they log the hours they spend “working on each design project to shine the spotlight on the inadequacies of the current minimum fee structures”. This will pave the way for a new claim to improve fees for 2021.