New Equity president Maureen Beattie has used one of her first public addresses to call on the industry to “wake up and make an effort” if it wants to see change in the industry.
The actor said she and Equity also needed to “get out there and engage with the members of this wonderful union” and find new ways of communicating with them.
“We must harness the power of the community if we are to triumph in the challenges ahead,” she added.
Beattie, writing in this month’s Equity magazine, said just 7% of members had voted in the union’s current council elections.
“There are countries where people would lay down their lives to take part in a democratic election such as ours, not to mention the right to unionise. I know not everyone is able to give the same amount of time to activism, but the words of Edmund Burke spring to mind: ‘Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little’,” she said.
She added: “If we want to change things for the better, we need to wake up and make an effort.”
Beattie highlighted issues in the sector such as the lack of arts subjects in the EBacc and the government’s apparent disinterest in ensuring arts in education continues.
“No one with any real political power seems to give much of a toss whether the arts survives or not,” she said, adding: “Neither do they seem to be much concerned about the lack of opportunities for young people from lower income families.”
This article was amended on July 30 to acknowledge that Beattie was referring to all professions within the sector, not just actors.