Commercial touring producers should not be allowed to benefit from theatre tax relief unless they are using union contracts, Equity has said.
The union will lobby the government to change the rules accordingly, in light of a “series of high-profile tour collapses in 2018”.
These include the tours of Thoroughly Modern Millie and musical Heaven on Earth, which collapsed owing an estimated £2.6 million to performers, creatives and venues.
Equity argued that union agreements would offer more protection to artists around the early closure of a tour.
A motion proposed by the Stage Committee at Equity’s Annual Representative Conference said: “Unlike early closure on Equity agreements, collapses often leave members with salary and other entitlements left owing, not to mention the stress of having to find new work to fill a contract which has ended early.
“The ARC believes that it is of the utmost importance to incentivise the use of union agreements in the commercial touring sector. Over the last decade, use of the agreement has grown to most major commercial producers, but newer, smaller producers at most risk of financial instability are less likely to do so.”
The motion noted that all theatre productions that receive subsidy from one of the arts councils are required to budget for an industry standard agreement, but there are no such requirements for commercial producers benefiting from theatre tax relief.
Introduced in 2014, theatre tax relief allows producers to claim back 25% of their corporation tax bill on a touring production.
The motion added: “This ARC believes that, like subsidy from the arts council, TTR should only be available to producers using an appropriate union agreement and urges the council to lobby the government to change the rules accordingly.
“This would give guarantees on pay, pensions, dignity at work, working time – and proper protections around early closure or failure to produce.”
For more coverage of the Equity Annual Representative Conference 2019, click here.