Jennifer Lunn, 27 January 2013

I convened this session because as an associate director of a fringe theatre in South

London I am concerned about the current issues arising from the low-pay/no-pay

debate. This has impacted on the theatre because we are no longerin a position to

advertise castings as the artistic director is worried about receiving a letter from HMRC

regarding the non-payment of minimum wage.

I would like to say that I think this issue has become much more complicated than it

probably is due to a high level of fear around this situation and companies/venues not

feeling able to even ask questions about this without exposing themselves and risking

losing livelihoods etc.

So… this was a discussion about what we can do to establish a safe way of working

for fringe companies that neither exploits those working for little or no money nor puts

the fringe out of existence.

Some points around the issue that were raised…

- it's galling to discover midway through a production that some people are being paid

and others not.

- what is it appropriate to pay for if some/most are not getting paid? ie technicians etc

- is it best if it is an investment by everyone?

- ACE funding requires ITC minimum payment.

- Profit share is a “dreaded term”

- Do producers assume creatives will work for free? why? is that okay?

We discussed the difference between fringe shows that are run with transparency and

benefit the actors involved and productions like Miss Julie at the Barbican with Juliette

Binoche which had a large chorus of actors who were paid simply expenses.

Our discussion moved towards something we could introduce that might act as a mark

that showed companies or venues to be trading fairly and transparently. Could this be

a sort of quality mark agreement that people signed upto so actors and creatives knew

that they were working within a certain set of rules etc.

These might include the following;

- transparency of accounting both prior and post production

- a flexibility in rehearsals

- a degree of involvement in decision making?

talent development by venues/companies - ie taking on associate artists who are

supported across a season or a year with opportunities and also recognition through a


- a volunteer policy/contract for actors etc

- commitment to looking for funding and possible showing evidence of having applied

for funding etc.

We also talked about the idea of financial transparency also with audiences:

“You paid 12 pounds for your seat - if we had paid everyone properly it would actually

have cost you 90 pounds. There will be a bucket outside, if you think it was worth

more than 12 pounds then feel free to drop some money in. This money will be split

between those members of the company who were not paid.”

We would like Equity to join this conversation. Not just the “pay actors” conversation

but also the “how can we still have the fringe without people feeling exploited?”

It has been pointed out that equity have a fringe contract. We think this still requires

minimum wage but is perhaps worth looking into.

Also perhaps ITC might be interested in helping to create a fair fringe mark which is

supported by a pack of contracts etc and is somehow regulated and allows actors to

make more informed choices about how they work on the fringe.

Session attendes included: Sam Hoyle, Danielle McIlven, James Hadley, Dan Phillips,

Lucy Avery, Mary O'Connor.


fringe, payment, profit-share, wages, pay, Payment, fair, Pay, Fair, finance, Fringe,

Wages, Equity

Comments: 2

Chris Grady, 27 January 2013

Really interesting and practical session. Thanks for great notes. The challenge is there for all those who would love to make

work with the many graduates from drama school. Whilst in schools they are paying for the privilege of creating new

productions, and the moment they come out they are crying out for professional experiences which are few and far

between. Rather than work 7 nights a week in a bar at minimum wage and no prospect of being spotted, surely it is better to

work 3 nights in a bar and do a profit-share Fringe play at a recognised approved venue.

This would also give real energy to the emerging producers and directors to get more work on, and all together should

generate a skilled next generation who can be given (or can create for themselves) full rate jobs in the future.

Otherwise we we continue have a generation of demorolised, highly skilled bar workers, with 25k debt and a belief they

could/should have been spotted in their final showcase.

Let's grow opportunities and grow the Fringe



German Munoz, 31 January 2013

Hi, would love to hear if any actions came up as a result of this talk. Cheers!