First and foremost, we would like to commend Equity for its impressive and ongoing work to support members at this difficult time. Achievements such as the agreement with the Society of London Theatre to provide job security in the West End, the distribution of over £250,000 in grants and a pay deal to help artists in continuing dramas are a testament to the power of collective action. Protecting members from the impact of Covid-19 is rightly our union’s top priority.
We are writing this letter following the recent Equity Zooms in on… Equality virtual meeting that took place on April 9. We all firmly believe that union activity is crucial to securing equality for creative workers and we remain hopeful that we can achieve this together. However, such an outcome is only possible with the trust of union members, trust that we feel has recently been critically undermined by Equity’s announcement of a settlement in response to litigation brought by a non-member, exemplified by the resignation of the Race Equality Committee.
We no longer feel that meaningful progress can be made for minority ethnic members under current Equity leadership. As such, we will not be taking part in the recently announced Race Equality Task Force until after the elections for general secretary, council, president, Appeals and Standing Orders Committees have been concluded in July.
We absolutely want and encourage all members to address minority ethnic concerns in our industry – it is essential work in the fight for equality – but we cannot in all conscience urge others to participate in an exercise we ourselves will not. We feel new leadership is needed. We feel trust needs to be rebuilt.
In the meantime, we will of course continue to support Equity’s sterling efforts to protect members from the impact of Covid-19.
Here is the background: at 9.05am on March 13, after Equity announced a settlement in response to litigation brought by a non-member, Equity’s Race Equality Committee resigned in protest. Committee members took this action feeling they had no other option after only being informed of the settlement at 6.42pm the evening before.
From late January onwards, the committee had become increasingly concerned that their existence was simply a box-ticking exercise; Equity’s unexpected announcement of the settlement, without any prior updates to the committee (despite requests), served to confirm these worries. We support the committee in their decision to resign.
Since then, we feel there has been no meaningful communication from senior management with ex-committee members and no robust response from Equity outlining a way forward, made obvious most recently by Equity’s reluctance to discuss the matter during the Equity Zooms in on… Equality virtual meeting on April 9, despite numerous requests from attendees for answers.
We feel Equity’s only significant action to date with this matter has been to announce a Race Equality Task Force, set to consist of appointed members, whose mission is to continue the Race Equality Committee’s flagship piece of work: the development of a much-needed race equality policy for the union. It has also been suggested by Equity’s Equality and Diversity Organiser that this task force will investigate the causes and impact of the Race Equality Committee’s resignation.
As far as we are concerned, there is no ambiguity around the Race Equality Committee’s resignation. Feeling they lacked any other means of input, the committee resigned in protest at Equity’s actions, which they felt severely undermined the trust of many members, with some choosing to leave the union, and would-be members refusing to join.
In our view, for an elected body of engaged and experienced members to be replaced by an unelected task force, in the name of promoting equality, is incongruous. We also feel that given the immediate and pressing concerns of the pandemic, a task force would lack the support and resources needed to do meaningful work. We fear that under current Equity leadership such a task force, which at present aims to bring an interim report and recommendations to council in June, will be yet another box-ticking exercise and will only serve to further alienate minority ethnic members and would-be members.
Saikat Ahamed (Equity member)
Jassa Ahluwalia (Equity member – ex-Race Equality Committee)
Ramanique Ahluwalia (Equity member)
Waleed Akhtar (Equity member)
Yasmeen Arden (in solidarity – Stage Directors UK member)
Cindy-Jane Armbruster (former vice chair of D/Deaf and Disabled Committee)
Rosie Armstrong (Equity member)
Rakie Ayola (Equity member)
Annice B (Equity member)
Miriam Babooram (Equity member – ex-Race Equality Committee)
Jessica Barker-Wren (Equity member)
Ariane Barnes (Equity member)
Marcus Bernard (in solidarity – BECTU member & Artistic Director of The Upsetters)
Rebecca Boey (Equity member – ex-Race Equality Committee Vice Chair)
Paulina Brahm (Equity member)
Jennifer Brough (in solidarity – writer)
Melody Brown (Equity member since 1992)
Cory Chambers (left Equity in protest)
Julie Cheung-Inhin (Equity member – ex-Race Equality Committee)
Jon Chew (Equity member)
Vera Chok (Equity member)
Di Christian (Equity Councillor)
Jessica Clark (left Equity in protest)
Olivette Cole-Wilson (Equity member)
Gerard Cooke (Equity member)
Dr Tom Cornford (out of benefit – The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama)
Beatie Edney (Equity member)
Chloe Ewart (out of benefit)
Rachael Fagan (Equity member)
Saima Ferdows (in solidarity – TV Producer, Writer & Standup Director)
Fred Fergus (Equity member)
Janna Fox (Equity member)
Rhiann Francis (left Equity in protest)
Nathaniel Francis (out of benefit)
Chris Fung (left Equity in protest)
Pooja Ghai (Equity member)
Bally Gill (left Equity in protest)
Nicholas Goh (Equity member – Race Equality Committee (then known as Minority Ethnic Members Committee) Chair 2015-2017, Vice Chair 2017-2019)
Shobna Gulati (Equity member)
Rachel Handshaw (Equity member)
Debbie Hannan (in solidarity – Director)
Siu-see Hung (Equity member)
Safiyya Ingar (Equity member)
Irvine Iqbal (Equity member – ex-Race Equality Committee)
Jessica Woo (Equity member)
Jasmine Naziha Jones (Equity member)
Paterson Joseph (out of benefit)
Andrew Joshi (Equity member)
Shobu Kapoor (Equity member)
Phoebe Kemp (Equity member)
Gareth Kennerley (Equity member)
Sophie Khan-Levy (Equity member)
Güni Koçak (Equity member)
Andrew Koji (out of benefit)
Laura Kressly (Equity member)
Divian Ladwa (Equity member)
Aaron Lee Lambert (left Equity in protest)
Lydia Larson (left Equity in protest)
Vinna Law (remaining out of benefit in protest)
Amy Lennox (out of benefit)
Adam Lenson (in solidarity – Director, Producer & Stage Directors UK member)
Chowee Leow (Equity member on temporary withdrawal)
Katie Leung (Equity member)
Nyla Levy (Equity member)
Siu Hun Li (Equity member)
Peta Lily (Equity member)
Matt Lim (Equity member – ex-Race Equality Committee)
Mingyu Lin (in solidarity – Stage Directors UK member)
Daniel York Loh (Equity member – ex-Race Equality Committee Chair)
Josie Long (Equity member)
Wyllie Longmore (Equity member)
Eugenia Low (Equity member)
Isley Lynn (in solidarity – Playwright)
Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (in solidarity – Playwright, Screenwriter & Writers’ Guild member)
Camille Mallet de Chauny (Equity member)
Andrea Lily Martin (Equity member)
Amanda Maud (Equity member)
Lydia McNulty (Equity member)
Joshua McTaggart (in solidarity – Artistic Director & Chief Executive, Chelsea Theatre)
Patrick Miller (remaining out of benefit in protest)
Anjli Mohindra (Equity member)
Eric Mok (out of benefit)
LM Newberry (Equity member)
Victor Ngo (Equity member)
Conor O’Kane (Equity member)
Sukh Ojla (Equity member)
Nerissa Olavo-Gamboa (Equity member)
Funlola Olufunwa (Equity member)
Mark Oosterveen (Equity member)
Mark Ota (Equity member)
Sarah Owen (MP for Luton North)
Lydia Parker (Equity member)
Nikesh Patel (out of benefit)
Sean Power (out of benefit)
Helen Raw (Equity member – Deputy Moderator for Online Branch)
Kirris Riviere (in solidarity – Actor & Singer)
Lynda Rooke (Equity member)
Sharon Rose (Equity member)
Colin Ryan (Equity member)
Peyvand Sadeghian (Equity member)
Arinder Sadhra (Equity member)
Amna Saleem (in solidarity – Writer)
Jack Sandle (Equity member)
Lucy Sheen (out of benefit)
Kevin Shen (Equity member)
Dr Nikesh Shukla DLit FRSL (in solidarity – Writer)
Harry Lister Smith (Equity member)
Tony Tang (Equity member)
Duncan Taylor (Equity member – Bristol and West Branch Committee)
Milly Thomas (Equity member)
Eltjo de Vries (Equity member)
Naomi Westerman (left Equity in protest due to previous incidents)
Richard Stephenson Winter (Equity member)
Matthew Xia (in solidarity – Artistic Director, Actors Touring Company)
Jay Oliver Yip (Equity member)
Jamie Zubairi (Equity member)
Roy Hudd appeared as the circus owner Sleary in Christopher Tookey and Hugh Thomas’ musical version of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times (2000). At the end of the show, when the last performance had been given and the troupe prepared to move on, Roy sang these following poignant lines: “No need for tears or frowns or sorrow / Turn all the gaslights down again low / Turn all the wagons round – and then go / There’ll be another town, tomorrow.”
Whatever Roy did, whether as a comedian, raconteur or actor, it was always top quality. His two books – Roy Hudd’s Cavalcade of Variety Acts and Roy Hudd’s Book of Music-Hall, Variety and Showbiz Anecdotes – are a fitting testament.
Just as has been said of Max Miller: “There’ll never be another.” Thank you, Roy.
Thanks to the Federation of Entertainment Unions for urging the chancellor to provide more help for creative industries workers.
The HMRC scheme isn’t going to help creatives much: they will be receiving 80% of not much in June or July, when it makes a payment to the self-employed.
This is discrimination against the self-employed in the creative sectors.
Many congrats to all @TheStage on the launch of the fabulous new website. I love it.
The cultural sector needs its media scrutiny through the Covid-19 crisis. Looking forward to checking out @TheStage relaunch.
West End Producer hits the mood perfectly with his column.
“Keep going my dears, we’ll be seeing each other soon, I promise.” Absolutely bloody wonderful bloke – the Vera Lynn of 2020.