Leeds 2023 signs fair pay union agreement

05 Dec 2022

Leeds Culture Trust has agreed that all creatives working on the LEEDS 2023 cultural programme will be paid fair wages and have safe and secure working conditions.

The agreement forms part of a Memorandum of Understanding between Leeds Culture Trust and trade unions TUC Yorkshire and Humber, Equity, Artists’ Union England, BECTU and Musicians' Union.

The trust says it will encourage partners and stakeholders to also “engage with appropriate unions to create agreements for the creative sector workers they employ”.

A similar agreement was signed ahead of Coventry’s stint as City of Culture 2021 and in Birmingham for the cultural programme that coincided with this year’s Commonwealth Games.

“At a time when precarious engagements and poor pay are threatening to overshadow the UK’s cultural strength, again Leeds is leading the way by putting the terms and conditions of the creative workforce at the heart of what it means to have a year of culture,” Equity General Secretary Paul Fleming said.

“Great art thrives when artists have dignity at and in their work, which is exactly what this Memorandum of Understanding aims to assure.”

Striking museum workers agree 10% pay deal

28 Nov 2022

Staff at the National Coal Mining Museum (NCMM) in Wakefield, Yorkshire, have called off further industrial action after agreeing to a pay rise of up to 10.5%.

Union members staged a five-day strike last month after receiving a pay offer that was less than half of the £2,000 increase they had requested in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

The museum has now offered full-time workers a revised pay settlement of £1,650 plus a one-off cost-of-living payment of £350, with part-time staff receiving a pro-rata increase.

The Museums Association says the increase will apply to around 100 staff, many of whom are ex-miners who work as guides.

Unison's Wakefield district Branch Secretary Sam Greenwood said: “Museum staff took a stand and have achieved a wage rise that goes some way towards helping them through the cost-of-living crisis.

“Thankfully now the museum and its employees can continue with their amazing work sharing the story of the region's substantial coal mining heritage for future generations to better understand and enjoy.”

DCMS pledges action on gender pay gap

28 Nov 2022

DCMS has said it will take action to address gender pay gap after report finds the difference between the middle earning man and middle earning woman in the department rose to 9.3%.

UK at risk of ‘serious loss of writing talent’, union warns

15 Nov 2022

Rising energy and food costs are severely impacting the viability of writing as a career, a new survey has found.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) surveyed more than 250 writers, among whom 55% cited the cost of living as “impacting on their ability to sustain a writing career, severely impacting livelihoods and the cultural industries which depend upon their skills”.

Writers across TV, film, theatre, audio, books and videogames responded to the survey, with 67% stating that they had to rely on savings in order to manage day-to-day expenditure and 37% saying they were forced to rely on their partners’ earnings.

More than 70% of those surveyed had earned £18,000 or less for their writing work in the last financial year.

Over 80% described themselves as freelance writers, highlighting the precarious nature of self-employment for the screenwriters, playwrights, authors, audio dramatists and videogames writers represented by the union.

“The UK faces a [serious] loss of writing talent and this risks pulling the rug from under our world-beating cultural industries, which contribute over £100bn to our economy and enjoy an enviable global profile,” said Ellie Peers, WGGB General Secretary.

“We will be working with our industry partners to address the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on writers, we will continue to campaign and lobby and we will defend our members against poor practice wherever we find it.” 

Problems reported by survey respondents including having less time to work as a writer or apply for funding and development schemes, an industry-wide dearth of opportunity, real wages failing to keep pace with inflation, late payments, shrinking production budgets and reduced audience sizes. 

Many also expressed anxiety about how the cost-of-living crisis would affect the creative industries, fearing that shrinking demand might force organisations to close.

Musicians fear 'being forced to leave industry' 

14 Nov 2022

Half of UK musicians are either "extremely" or "very" concerned they'll be forced to leave the industry over the next six months due to the ongoing cost of living crisis, a study has found.

A survey by charity Help Musicians found that the cost-of-living crisis is impacting musicians more than the pandemic with 60% saying they are earning less than they were a year ago, and eight out of 10 saying they earn less than before the pandemic. 

The survey, which garnered responses from more than 500 professional musicians, revealed that the situation is having a severe impact on their mental health, with 88% saying that poor mental health is currently negatively impacting their career.

Most are also in a "cost-of-working" crisis, with 91% unable to afford music equipment, while energy and fuel costs are making travelling to gigs and heating rehearsal spaces impossible for many. 

Nearly all UK musicians (98%) are concerned about earning enough income in the next six months, with 90% worried about affording food and 84% concerned about paying their mortgage or rent. This has led to half of UK musicians "extremely" or "very" concerned they'll be forced to leave the industry.

James Ainscough, Chief Executive of Help Musicians said: “It is hard to imagine any point since the Second World War when it has been tougher to be a professional musician - put simply, the current environment is brutal. 

"The pandemic had a catastrophic impact, with most simply unable to perform. Afterwards, venues were booked up for months or years in advance due to rearranged gigs. This has been followed by Brexit, which has impacted their ability to tour, for many emerging musicians a vital step in building a sustainable career. 

“It is clear from the responses to this survey, that musicians need a broad range of support to help them navigate financial challenges of working and living over winter, make the most of touring opportunities, and improve their mental health. 

“We need to put significant time and resource into sustaining musicians over the coming, challenging months, if we are to have a thriving music ecosystem in 2023 and beyond. We cannot afford to lose any of the talent from our passionate community of UK musicians if we want to continue enjoying the music that inspires us all every day.”

Museum staff strike over pay

31 Oct 2022

A museum in Wakefield was closed for several days last week after staff went on strike over pay.

Museums + Heritage Advisor reports that union members at the National Coal Mining Museum went on strike last Wednesday (26 October), with the industrial action concluded on Sunday (30 October).

Unison’s Wakefield branch secretary Sam Greenwood said 94.4% of members, on a turnout of 87.8%, had voted in favour of action.

“Last week we attended what we believed would be pay negotiations with the employer but museum representatives merely restated that pay offer that had previously been made and stated they were not prepared to improve upon it," he said.

“Inflation is currently at 10 per cent and the museum’s offer is less than half of that. Members don’t want to go on strike but the museum is leaving them with no choice.”

Performing artists need policy support

Man performance circus act on trapeze
18 Oct 2022

How can cultural policy support freelance performing artists? It's a question Cecilia Dinardi has been asking in her latest research into the impact of Covid. 

Younger arts workers 'priced out of London'

13 Oct 2022

ArtsPay survey findings suggest workers in the capital are not being paid enough to cover the costs of living in London.

UAL introduces ‘sector-leading’ parental leave policy

13 Oct 2022

University of the Arts London (UAL) says its new parental pay and leave policy is sector leading.

The new policy, introduced at the start of October, offers an equal package of 26 weeks of full maternity or paternity pay to staff irrespective of gender, sexual orientation or how people become parents.

The institution has also reduced its continuous service requirement from 12 months to 26 weeks.

UAL says its new policy was guided by feedback and consultations with staff and trade unions and is supported by an “abundance of evidence” outlining how equal parental leave benefits parents, children, and the economy.

Research from the International Labour Office outlines that generous and non-gender specific paternal leave and pay is one of the most important indirect ways of closing the gender pay gap.

UAL Chief Social Purpose Officer Polly Mackenzie said: “At the heart of UAL’s social purpose strategy is a commitment to pioneer changes that can help solve society’s problems.   

“We hope this move will inspire other organisations to introduce equal parental leave and contribute to a country in which gender no longer determines your earning potential.” 

Pulse report: ArtsPay 2022

ArtsPay full report image
12 Oct 2022

It's been four years since our last ArtsPay survey to gauge the realities of earnings in the sector - four years of upheaval including Brexit, Covid and the cost-of-living crisis. We hope this latest report, from our editorial partners Baker Richards, together with analysis from the Arts Professional news team, contributes to the understanding of the state of arts pay in 2022.

PRS for Music announces record royalty payout

07 Oct 2022

PRS for Music has announced a record-breaking £211m royalty distribution to members, marking the highest ever single payment in its 108-year history.

The organisation, which represents the rights of over 160,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers in the UK and around the world, pays royalties to its members four times a year - in in April, July, October and December.

It said the October 2022 payout represented an 18% year-on-year increase on October 2021. 

“The record payment of royalties by PRS for Music reflects our relentless focus on maximising the value of members’ rights," Andrea Czapary Martin, CEO of PRS for Music, said.

"Ensuring members are paid as quickly and accurately is at the heart of everything we do." 

Comments submitted to ArtsPay survey point to sector in crisis

04 Oct 2022

Respondents to the ArtsPay survey say the rising cost of living and historic low levels of pay are causing unsustainable working conditions and forcing people out of the sector.

Pay insecurity and harassment make freelancers lot an unhappy one

Actors on stage
04 Oct 2022

Poor pay, a lack of regard for well-being, and a corrosive 'show must go on' culture are the norm for the UK's theatre sector freelancers, a new report says.

Arts salaries show evidence of class premium

29 Sep 2022

Concerns raised over ''lack of support" for working class people in the arts as figures show they earn less than peers from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

Emergency budget: what it means for arts and culture sector

22 Sep 2022

Raft of new economic polices lack specific measures for arts and culture but offer prospect of tax cuts for businesses and employees in bid to drive growth.

ArtsPay survey indicates gender pay gap narrowing

20 Sep 2022

Survey suggests pay inequality between men and women is decreasing, but comparisons with 2018 data suggest that some wage increases could represent real-terms cuts.

Equity calls for contracts to be honoured during mourning

16 Sep 2022

Employers that cancel productions during the mourning period should honour contracts with workers, performers' union Equity has said.

In issuing guidance for members working in live performance during the mourning period, Equity said that because venues and event organisers are not obliged to cancel events/performances, the period of national mourning cannot be treated as "force majeure" - whereby one or both parties are excused from a contract because of circumstances beyond their control.

"Therefore, contracts should be honoured except where both parties agree otherwise," the union said.

Equity added that as the day of the funeral will be a bank holiday, members who are required to work should check the terms of their contracts carefully to establish if further payments will be due to them for working on a public holiday.

Theatre faces sex discrimination claim

Carnegie Theatre and Arts Centre in Workington, Cumbria
24 Aug 2022

A sex discrimination case relating to redundancy of theatre worker in December 2020 is given the green light by a judge to proceed to a full hearing.

Equity launches Comedians’ Charter at Edinburgh Fringe

A comedian on stage in front of an audience
09 Aug 2022

The performing arts trade union has issued guidance to promoters and venues on transparent pay and safe working conditions for comedy acts.

Commonwealth Games commits to fair pay for creatives

28 Jul 2022

A Memorandum of Understanding between cultural sector unions and the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee sets out a commitment to fair pay and diversity.


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