Talks are underway to set recommended fees and create a basic contract for dramaturgs working in the UK.
The Dramaturgs’ Network, a volunteer arts organisation that supports British dramaturgy and literary managers, met with Equity, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, the Independent Theatre Council and Stage Directors UK earlier this month to discuss how to make progress with a standard contract and fees.
Prior to the meeting, a working group from the Dramaturgs’ Network considered the basic contracts of other industry professionals serving in similar creative roles to plan a proposed contract.
Katalin Trencsényi, an advisory board member of the network, said: “Working as a dramaturg is a relational job – it is always in collaboration with other artists. It is a very complex role being a creative expert, a critical friend, or sometimes a co-maker in the room, whose role is to be inside and outside of the process at the same time.
“Our creative input can nurture and nourish the work, yet it cannot be separated from the end product. This complexity can create difficulties or even tension when trying to translate the dramaturg’s responsibilities and rights into legal terms.”
She added: “The desired outcome of these industry-wide consultations is to ensure that the working conditions for dramaturgs in the UK are appropriate, safe, and healthy; and that the work and expertise of dramaturgs are appropriately acknowledged and fairly paid.”
Since 2015, meetings between members of the organisations have negotiated possible terms and conditions of the contract, including a description of the dramaturg’s role.
There are currently no collective agreements in place to legislate the rate of pay for dramaturgs.
Jackie Elliman, the legal and industrial relations manager for the Independent Theatre Council, said: “We welcome the dramaturgs’ initiative in proposing a template agreement for their work in our sector. We have been drafting and talking with them over several years and are pleased the discussion has now been widened to include other key industry bodies.
We look forward to the production of a mutually supported document that will provide valuable guidance for dramaturgs and those engaging them, while recognising that this will not be a formal union agreement with minimum rates of pay.”