I regret that Christine Payne (Comment, November 20) seems unable to understand that the £1.3 million misleadingly termed ‘unknown funds’ belong to union members or their beneficiaries, just as millions of pounds previously not distributed over several decades also belonged to members. They were and are contractual payments due for the transmission and use of TV programmes etc members had appeared in. Equity is not an industrial organisation and has never made millions of pounds in a year. It is members’ work that annually brings such returns.
Eighteen months ago, Equity was asked to produce contracts or agreements giving it the right to use members’ remunerations. None has been produced. This is not surprising, since a union foundation ‘objective’ that must be honoured is that Equity shall protect members’ economic interests. How could union employees entrusted to negotiate contracts or agreements in the interests of members honestly create ones that diverted members’ remunerations to Equity’s use?
This has been a longstanding issue. By 2010, general secretary Christine Payne and Equity president Malcolm Sinclair had members expressing concerns to them that towards £20 million of members’ money had been used by the union. Now, more than four years later and with another huge sum found, the figure must be approaching £25 million and siphoned-off remunerations are still not “undistributable”.
I have never claimed to know exactly to whom so-called “undistributable” money belongs, but like an increasing number of members I know distribution to eligible members has never been impossible. Enough is known to ask a court to hear arguments the solicitors representing members will put forward, view the evidence available, hear the members’ witnesses and consider proposals that have benefits for all members.
The urgent need for long – withheld members’ remunerations to be paid, members’ future remunerations to be protected and fully paid and any remaining funds, if any, dealt with as members propose could not have been more clearly demonstrated.
The siphoning-off of members’ remunerations must cease; and to achieve this an early court date is necessary.
Representative defendant for Equity members
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Dennis Kelly, whoever he is, as a playwright inhabits a world completely unknown to me (News, December 4). So the “UK is the best place for playwrights”, is it? You could have fooled me.
In my 40 years as a playwright, with 20 commercial plays coming off my typewriter, I’ve yet to experience a receiving end for new plays that showed professional expertise in evaluating a text or the clout to convert this to a production.
I never had contact with a single artistic director who was truly looking for new plays or even might understand such fare if he ever got his hands on it. Not one of the big-name playwrights who made it to the West End since the Second World War had his first play picked off the slush heap with a cry of “Eureka!”.
He got past the door via acting, television, sexual contacts or money. In my experience, and I say this with a cynical smile and without despair, our commercial theatre is rancid with corruption, empty promises, nepotism, cronyism, charlatanry, amateurism and guesswork.
“About writing nobody knows anything”, the screenwriter Bill Goldman famously said years ago, and our theatre has proved this time and again. So allow me to greet your Dennis Kelly piece with a horse laugh.
Frank R Long
In response to John White’s question about theatre design and microphones (Comment, December 11): to generalise, the acoustics for clear speech in a theatre have been considered for many years, building on what has worked in the past. When London theatres were first constructed, problems were more or less fixed subsequently. Modern science and computer modelling have allowed acoustics to be included at the design stages.
Microphones are seldom used for dramatic speech unless in unusual circumstances. Musicals, when a singer needs to dominate a band or orchestra, normally call for the use of a radio microphone attached to each singer. Operatic training can produce a voice that can, without a microphone, cut through a Wagnerian orchestra at full tilt!
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I object to the very snide comments from “Tabard” about Jim Davidson and the appallingly unprofessional treatment he received from the Capitol Theatre in Horsham – “no crew, no lights, no mike” – and then the ridiculously childish comment (joke?) “who is Mike anyway?”.
Believe me, Jim Davidson is far funnier than you. He, at least, was professional enough to give the audience who had come as good an evening as he could in the circumstances.
Where was the crew? Couldn’t the manager or a deputy have called in emergency staff if the crew had suddenly all gone sick? This sort of unprofessional behaviour is killing theatres.
Much is made of the current panto, but the audience who paid to see Mr Davidson are equally important and deserve as much respect. Mr Davidson may not be to everyone’s taste but nor are opera, ballet, classical plays or pop groups – but all have their audiences.
Since we don’t know who Tabard is, I write this unsigned, too (no connections whatsoever with Mr Davidson or Capitol Theatre).
Resident of Horsham