British Museum to pay translator after plagiarism allegation

26 Jun 2023

The British Museum has offered to pay translator Yilin Wang for her work, after she alleged her poetry translations had been plagiarised.

Last week, the museum removed a segment of its China’s Hidden Century exhibition after the writer said she received neither credit nor payment for her translations of work by Chinese revolutionary Qiu Jin.

The museum said that it had issued an apology for the “unintentional human error” and had “offered financial payment for the period the translations appeared in the exhibition, as well as for the continued use of quotations from their translations in the exhibition catalogue”. 

The museum described the matter as “an inadvertent mistake”. It has offered Wang payment in line with its usual rates, The Guardian reported.

Museum staff spent years working on the exhibition, which includes 300 objects and research from more than 100 scholars from 14 countries. Some staff and curators were subject to “unacceptable” attacks on social media and through emails after the plagiarism allegations, the museum claims.

“We stand behind our colleagues fully and request those responsible for these personal attacks to desist as we work with Yilin Wang to resolve the issues they have raised concerning the use of their translations within the exhibition,” it said.

Academics who have previously worked with the museum have written to express their concern, including Julia Lovell, Professor of Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck University and one of the principal researchers of the exhibition, who said she was “in full sympathy with Ms Wang’s anger”. 

“It was a genuinely accidental, unmalicious human error amid a very complex project, for which the British Museum have apologised profusely and sincerely, and sought to make amends,” she said.

In a statement on Twitter, Wang said that the museum had told her it would not be reinstating her translations in the exhibition. Her work is acknowledged in the exhibition’s catalogue.

Government to set up working group on music industry pay

30 May 2023

The government has accepted the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee’s recommendation on establishing a working group to explore issues around fair pay for creators and performers in the music industry.

The follow-up report by the committee was published in January, more than two years after it first began an inquiry into the economics of streaming.

Ministers have now agreed to the establishment of a working group to focus on fair renumeration for artists whose music is played on audio streaming services, as recommended by the committee, Music Week reported.

Chair of the CMS Select Committee Dame Caroline Dinenage said the creation of the working group “is a welcome step towards addressing the frustrations of musicians and songwriters whose pay falls far short of a fair level given their central role in the success of the music streaming industry. 

“The government must now make sure the group is more than a talking shop and leads to concrete change so the talented creators and performers we have in this country are properly rewarded for their creativity,” she added.

“The committee will be keeping a close eye on progress and also looking more widely at artist and creator remuneration to ensure everyone who works in our creative industries can share in its successes.”

The working group will be composed of representatives and experts from across the music sector and will “explore and develop industry-led actions that support fair remuneration for existing and future music creators as part of a successful and globally competitive music industry”, said former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.

“While terms in new contracts are increasingly creator-friendly, those benefits are often not extended to creators still signed to older contracts, many of whom are paid at substantially lower royalty rates than their modern counterparts,” he wrote.

“The government wants to see a thriving music industry that delivers sustained growth in an increasingly competitive global music market alongside fair renumeration for existing and future creators. 

“We believe that these aims are complementary and that reasonable action can be taken by industry to address creators’ concerns around remuneration.” 

But Sophie Jones, Interim CEO of the BPI, expressed concerns that the working group will “disincentivise investment” in the UK’s music sector “at a time when labels are fighting hard to grow exports and protect the rights of artists in the era of AI”.

She said the effort seemed to be “at odds with the government’s ambition to grow the UK's world leading creative industries by an extra £50bn by 2030”.

“Numerous studies have demonstrated that streaming has benefited consumers and artists alike, with record labels paying more to artists than ever before,” she said.

West End actors and stage managers to receive 16% pay rise

30 May 2023

Actors and stage managers working in the West End will receive a 16% pay rise over two years, under new rates agreed by Equity and the Society of London Theatre.

The updated SOLT/Equity Agreement for West End Theatre Artists will run from April 2023 to April 2026, covering performers and stage managers.

It agrees an increase of at least 10% to minimum rates across all pay brackets year-on-year for the period of April 3, 2023, to March 31, 2024.

For the year beginning April 1, 2024, all pay brackets will increase by around 5% of the 2023-24 rate, marking a total increase of 16% over two years.

Rates for the final year of the agreement have yet to be calculated but they are set to increase in line with the consumer price index figure published by the Office for National Statistics in February 2025, plus 0.5%, subject to a minimum increase of 2% and a maximum of 5%, The Stage reported.

Equity had initially campaigned for a 17% pay rise in the first year of the agreement, with an additional rise of 10% in the second year.

The final new agreement will see rates of pay for performers and stage managers rise in line with theatre sizes, based on an eight-show minimum week with increased rates for 12-show weeks.

Rates for workers at theatres with a capacity of 1,100 or more will rise from £757.84 per week to £880.10 by April 2024.

Rates at theatres with a capacity of 800 to 1,099 will rise from £689.37 to £800.58 and rates at theatres with up to 799 seats will rise from £620.29 to £720.36.

The agreement also includes a 33% increase to swing fees of up to £120 a week and a 12.5% increase to dance captain fees up to £135 a week.

“Given the current economic difficulties facing both SOLT and Equity members, these negotiations were always going to be difficult and challenging,” said Robert Noble, chair of the SOLT negotiating committee. 

“However, through constructive dialogue and a professional approach by all those involved in in the negotiation process, a settlement has been reached that acknowledges the commitment and support shown by Equity members during the pandemic and seeks to address, as far as is possible, the continuing economic challenge that we all continue to face.”

He added that the settlement has received “the very strong support of members of both organisations”.

Paul W. Fleming, General Secretary of Equity, said the “excellent deal” marks the start of a process that will see trials of a five-day rehearsal working week.

“Our strong, constructive, but robust industrial relations have delivered a meaningful shift in pay and conditions at a time of extraordinary pressure for bosses and workers alike,” he said.

Equity General Secretary: “We need to win bigger”

23 May 2023

Equity leader warns industry bosses of £1m strike fund in speech calling on sector management to cooperate with union to progress workers' rights.

The coronation: A showcase for 'world class' orchestras

Thousands of Union Jacks decorate Covent Garden Market ahead of the coronation of King Charles III.
09 May 2023

If there is one thing the UK does well it’s royal celebrations, and none come bigger than a coronation. But, as Mark Pemberton writes, the coronation of King Charles III had one particular dimension - the inclusion of so much classical music.

Why are disabled people asked to work for nothing?

Pull Up sharing by Delson Weeks, Blink Dance Theatre
18 Apr 2023

In a survey of disabled arts professionals, Unlimited found 87% had been asked to do something for nothing. Lucy Peters asks Jo Verrent: When will the sector stop exploiting disabled creatives and acknowledge their value?

Norwich Theatre Royal becomes a Real Living Wage employer

04 Apr 2023

As part of Norwich’s designation as a Living Wage City, Norwich Theatre, Royal has signed up to the Living Wage Foundation’s Real Living Wage scheme, awarding pay increases of at least 10% to eligible Theatre Royal and Playhouse staff.

Eligible full-time employees will receive an average pay increase of 10.3%, while variable-hour employees will see their hourly pay rise 14.7%.

The theatre’s decision to join the scheme comes amid a three-year plan, spearheaded by the city council, to significantly expand the number of employers in Norwich paying the Real Living Wage.

As of April 1, the government's National Living Wage is £10.42 per hour for workers aged 23 and over. The minimum wage for workers aged 21 and 22 is £10.18, with those aged 18 to 20 receiving £7.49 and under-18s and apprentices £5.28.

The Real Living Wage – which is calculated based on the cost of living – is higher, with participating businesses agreeing to pay any employee aged 18 and older at least £10.90 per hour, rising to £11.95 in London.

“The news that one of our key cultural institutions is to become a Real Living Wage Employer is tremendous and a significant boost to the campaign to ensure everyone across Norwich gets a decent wage,” said Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters.

Staff at British Museum announce Easter strikes

21 Mar 2023

Union workers at the British Museum have announced further strike dates over the Easter holidays, as part of widespread industrial action.

Thousands of members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union will strike in April in a “significant escalation” of the ongoing dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security.

Staff at the British Library will take two weeks of action, between 3 April and 16 April, while staff at the British Museum will strike for seven days from 6 April to 12 April.

The dates fall in the middle of the Easter holidays, when local families as well as thousands of tourists will be hoping to visit the museum, which attracts more than six million visitors annually.

The planned strike follows upheaval at the museum last month. More than 100 staff members staged a walkout on 1 February, resulting in the last-minute closure of the museum.

A further strike from 13 February to 19 February, during half term, resulted in the cancellation of scheduled activities and the disruption or closure of services including the box office and information desk.

Artists 'earning £2.60 an hour', study finds

A woman painting in an art studio
14 Mar 2023

The Structurally F-cked report presents a stark picture of underpaid, overworked artists in the UK's publicly-funded visual arts sector.

Theatre company announces four-day week plans

Group of people dancing
14 Mar 2023

A theatre company in Manchester will adopt a four-day week on a trial basis, becoming the second National Portfolio organisation to test out the idea.

Union warns theatre workers about pay confidentiality clauses

01 Mar 2023

A union is urging backstage theatre workers to check their contracts for clauses that prevent them talking about their rates of pay.

Bectu said many backstage theatre contracts include such clauses, which aim to keep terms and wages confidential.

The union believes the clauses should not be included and may be used to hide unfair pay practices.

It said The Equality Act 2010, and in particular Section 77, protects "the right that employees can legally discuss their work pay with colleagues".

The legislation states that employers "should not discipline anyone for discussing their work pay" and "should not include clauses in employee contracts that prevent workers from talking about pay".

The union stressed that the law only protects employees when discussing pay for the purpose of establishing an unfair pay issue in a workplace.

Bectu Assistant National Secretary Helen Ryan said: “It’s no secret that low pay is one of the core issues driving the chronic skills shortage in the UK theatre sector.

"We want to help implement pay consistency across the industry so it’s imperative that workers aren’t wrongfully bound by clauses that prevent them from discussing their pay, or allow for disciplinary action for doing so."

She added: “Productions we have spoken to about this have overwhelmingly responded positively and removed the clause, which we hope will encourage people to call out these clauses when they see them."


Creative Scotland seeks to address freelancer pay 'anomalies'

21 Feb 2023

Creative Scotland is seeking to address the inconsistency in rates of pay for freelancers across its funding programmes.

Although it does not set rates of pay itself, Scotland's arts funding body said it wants to ensure that industry-standard rates are equitably and consistently applied.

Alastair Evans, Interim Director, Strategy at Creative Scotland said: “Creative Scotland is committed, through any activities we support, to ensure that artists and professionals working in the creative sector are paid fairly with appropriate terms and conditions and employment opportunities.”

Research to identify key priorities for change is being carried out by consultancy practice Culture Radar and Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University.

They are currently seeking 'sector representatives' who have either made or been included in Creative Scotland funding applications, to contribute online to rates of pay consultations between 27 February - 2 March 2023. 

Evans added: “We encourage as many people as possible working across the industry to contribute to this important piece of work.

“This research will help to create the conditions for more meaningful and sustainable opportunities to work across, and progress through, the sector.”

Strike forces British Museum to close for three days

Workers stand outside the British Museum protesting. The photo shows around 30 people, holding signs and banners
20 Feb 2023

Staff members take part in week-long strike action organised by their union, as they call for a 10% pay rise in light of the rising cost of living.

British Museum closes due to strike action

Statue of a big cat within the British Museum
01 Feb 2023

Decision taken to close British Museum due to strike action affecting some of the UK’s largest museum and heritage organisations.

DCMS and Creative Scotland staff set to strike

Public sector workers during a strike. The photo displays a placard saying "don't let them get away with it, protect public sector"
27 Jan 2023

Staff from some of the UK’s largest museum and heritage organisations are also set to strike on Wednesday as they campaign for a pay rise, pensions justice and job security.

Bectu recommends new rates for touring theatre professionals 

26 Jan 2023

Bectu has published new pay guidance for professionals working on UK touring theatre productions.

The union guidance outlines new recommended rates agreed in consultation with its theatre touring branch. It follows the launch of Bectu's Guide to good practices on touring productions, published last October.

The rates apply to professionals working in all posts and grades – excluding those recognised by Equity or the Musicians’ Union – covering roles in lighting, sound, wardrobe, wigs, props, puppetry, chaperones, automaton and stage. 

Many of the union’s members have their minimum rates determined by Bectu’s agreements with the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, but staff on touring productions have increasingly been employed on buyout contracts, which don’t offer additional payments for overtime and Sunday shifts.

In the absence of agreed minimum rates with UK Theatre or other employers, the new guidance is designed to provide confidence and clarity to Bectu members negotiating rates for touring productions.

Employers do not have to pay the recommended rates, but Bectu is encouraging members to use them as a basis for negotiation.

“It’s no secret that low pay is one of the core issues driving the chronic skills shortage in the UK theatre sector. We cannot expect people to remain for ‘the love of the job’ when there are better pay and conditions elsewhere,” said Helen Ryan, Assistant National Secretary of Bectu.

“Our members working in touring theatre are highly skilled professionals and it is right that they are compensated fairly for their time and talents.”

The new rates do not apply to work done in the Commercial West End theatre sector, where Equity is currently supporting performers and stage managers demanding a 17% pay rise.

West End performers demand pay rise

23 Jan 2023

West End performers and stage managers have demanded a 17% pay hike, arguing that existing pay and working conditions are making it hard to retain talent and promote diversity in the industry.

Performer's union Equity has submitted a pay claim on their behalf to the Society of London Theatre and has warned that strike action is possible if the claim is rejected.

Equity has launched a campaign called Stand Up for 17% to coincide with the submission of the claim.

Equity’s General Secretary Paul W Fleming said: “Coming out of Covid, our industry was determined to ‘build back better’, and Equity’s West End campaign on work, rest and pay is the start of making that aspiration a reality. 

"At a time of high inflation, our members have decided to Stand Up For 17% – a sensible rise in the minimum when rents, energy, and other costs have continued to rocket for over a year."

The claim has been informed by the findings of a survey, conducted by Equity in August 2022, which found that 61% of its members working in the West End have considered leaving the industry in the past three years due to "inadequate pay" and "difficult working hours". 

Mandatory digital tax reporting for freelancers pushed back

Woman works on tax return at a desk
22 Dec 2022

Creative freelancers will have longer to transition to a mandatory digital tax system, after government shelves scheduled rollout due to “challenging economic environment”.

Theatre company to offer full-time PAYE contracts for actors

Members of the Creation Theatre rep company
14 Dec 2022

In response to the current economic climate and the lack of job security, Creation Theatre is set to create a repertory company with actors on full-time contracts.

Support programme for Northern Ireland artists massively oversubscribed

12 Dec 2022

Nearly three quarters of applicants for a support programme for artists in Northern Ireland have been rejected.

The BBC reports that about 920 eligible applications were received for the 2022/23 Siap General Arts Award fund run by Arts Council of Northern Ireland requesting a combined total of £4.3m in funding.

However, the funding pot of £985,000 was awarded to 262 individual artists received. Three years ago, the total number of eligible applicants was 280.

The fund aims to help artists purchase new equipment and develop new projects.

A spokesperson for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: "The 228.6% increase in applications to Siap's General Arts Award scheme this year, compared to those in 2019/20, has placed new pressures on the funding available for individual artists."

They added that a further £16.6m of funding would be needed to properly support and develop artists and organisations.


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