Significant racial pay gap among theatre producers

11 Jun 2024

Report exploring the lack of sustainable pathways into producing for British theatre producers from the global majority uncovers a racial pay gap of 20%.

National Museums Liverpool staff agree pay deal

06 Jun 2024

Longrunning strike action at National Museums Liverpool (NML) has ended after museum workers accepted an improved pay offer.

The Museums Association reports more than 60 days of strike action occurred in a dispute over a cost-of-living payment.

NML had said its staff were not eligible for the award, but the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union’s members argued that the institution should make the payment as it is funded by the central government and part of the civil service pensions scheme. 

The two parties have now agreed on a deal in which staff will receive a £1,200 one-off payment, two extra days of annual leave, and a 35% discount in NML shops and cafes.

Club for working class artists launches

03 Jun 2024

A London-based club has launched for people who work in the arts sector and come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The independent organisation, called Arts and Graft, plans to hold networking, hosting events and socialising opportunities. 

It was created by Meg Molloy, Head of Communications at Stephen Friedman Gallery, who told the Art Newspaper that being working class in the art world can feel isolating.

“Whether it's not knowing anyone at a swanky private view, having a certain accent, or having different reference points to colleagues, it's possible to feel that you don't belong,” Molloy said.

“I want to connect people to help build strong relationships, create dialogue, facilitate and find ways to educate and aid our community.”

An online form is available for those who wish to register interest in joining, with an official launch event scheduled for the summer.

Growing number of sector job vacancies down to skill shortages

31 May 2024

Number of job vacancies in the creative industries and culture sector left unfilled because applicants do not have the right skills, qualifications or experience is rising.

Equity votes to support WNO chorus 

20 May 2024

Members of performers' union Equity have voted unanimously to pass an emergency motion supporting the Welsh National Opera (WNO) chorus in a dispute over contract changes and compulsory redundancies. 

The vote was taken at Equity’s Annual conference on Sunday, lending weight to the union's previous statements resisting changes to reduce the ensemble's current full-time contracts, which would lead to a 15% annual salary cut.

Equity says that WNO’s plans to reduce and rebalance the chorus's size “can only lead to the real threat of compulsory redundancy” and hopes the vote would "send a message of solidarity" to the chorus members affected.

The conference asked Equity's Council to "provide whatever support is required" to amplify the chorus's campaign and not to accept compulsory redundancies or "WNO management's desire to have the flexibility of a full-time contract with all the precarity of an unsustainable cut to their basic earnings."

WNO has warned it is facing financial difficulties after Arts Council England (ACE) cut its core funding from £6.24m to £4m a year for the 2023-26 period, a 35% reduction. It also receives £4.1m a year from Arts Council Wales.

Last June, an open letter from former opera members warned that a strategic review would reduce the number of full-time orchestra and chorus members to meet funding conditions imposed by ACE.

Arts, culture and heritage workforce '90% white'

14 May 2024

Findings from a new report using census data to map the arts, culture and heritage workforce across England, Wales and Northern Ireland underscores inequalities in gender, ethnicity and social class across the sector.

Open recruitment to creative roles

A group of people listening to a speaker
07 May 2024

Northcott Theatre in Exeter has said it will advertise at least one creative role on every production. Creative Director Martin Berry explains the thinking behind it.  

Arts Council Wales confirms redundancies and restructure

Arts Council of Wales offices in Cardiff
16 Apr 2024

A combination of redundancies and roles not being replaced will reduce the public body's staff by 13.

Gender pay gap within culture sector increases

A woman preparing for a performance
03 Apr 2024

For every £1 earned by men employed in the cultural sector women are paid 85 pence, government statistics show.

Theatre workshop warns of skills shortages

21 Mar 2024

TR2, the workshop base for Theatre Royal Plymouth, is struggling to find staff to construct sets because of a skills shortage.

The Head of TR2 Brendan Cusack told the BBC that the Covid pandemic had taken its toll, with people with the right skills moving to other jobs post-lockdown such as in film, TV or the building trade.

"When lockdown happened a lot of people went over to other areas," he said. "Film and TV in this country now is absolutely massive. A lot of people went across to those areas and transferred into the building trade too.

"Finding the right level skill in carpentry and steel fabrication, even before starting to think about scenic art and prop making, is now quite tricky."

Class barriers persist in the creative industries

20 Mar 2024

Research from Creative Access has found class discrimination remains an issue in creative workspaces.

Almost three-quarters (74%) of 392 employees in the creative industries and Creative Access members, agreed it is harder for working-class people to land a role in the creative industries, while 70% of respondents said class affects how you’re seen by your peers.

The research also found there is a disparity between different classes regarding perceptions of social mobility, equal reward and senior representation across the sectors. In Creative Access’ research, 73% of working-class individuals and 46% of upper/upper middle class individuals agreed working class representation is lacking most at senior level.

Unpaid internships are still commonplace, the research found, with those who identify as working or middle or lower-middle class saying those from upper-class backgrounds benefit the most. 

The research also shed light on barriers to career progression including discrimination - where 88% agreed class discrimination was an issue in the UK workplace - and unequal reward. One in three working-class respondents thought they were rewarded equally for their work and contributions, compared with 67% of upper-class respondents.

Bibi Hilton, CEO of Creative Access said class is “the one area where we really aren’t making progress in the creative industries”.

“The research proves that access to this space is largely still based on contacts and networks which tend to be in close reach for the privileged,” Hilton added.

“It’s worrying that soft social identifiers are still influencing class prejudice and biases. But as the creative world evolves, we’re urging employers to commit to breaking down these barriers, whether it be levelling up their inclusive hiring or supporting working class staff with access to career support and mentors.”

AI chatbot aims to make your workplace safer

Image of Co-founders of the SaferSpace chatbot
06 Mar 2024

Ruth Sparkes is co-founder of SaferSpace, a tech-for-good company trying to address unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. To mark International Women's Day, she has released a free AI chatbot.

Arts roles feature in proposed changes to work visa rules

05 Mar 2024

A series of arts positions will be included in government list that allows a lower salary threshold for creatives seeking to move to the UK under a skilled work visa.

EXCLUSIVE: ACE seeks costs over failed race discrimination case

Speech Debelle, real name Corynne Elliot, performing at a music concert
29 Feb 2024

Arts Council England is pursuing Mercury Prize winning musician Speech Debelle for around £100,000 in legal costs.

Do you have an employee Health and Wellbeing policy?

28 Feb 2024

Leading a team producing a demanding festival in a challenging environment, Catherine Groom thinks developing and formalising a health and wellbeing policy is essential.

Former ArtsEd teacher launches unfair dismissal claim

ArtsEd building exterior
14 Feb 2024

A tribunal has heard that a former teacher at ArtsEd claimed there was a “culture of fear” at the school and raised concerns over leadership.

Improved redundancy offer for backstage ENO workers

The London Coliseum, the current home of English National Opera
06 Feb 2024

Backstage workers at English National Opera receive revised redundancy offer, which trade union Bectu is encouraging them to accept.

Survey to review pay transparency for live music freelancers

05 Feb 2024

Music sector body LIVE has launched a survey to understand and identify changes required to improve the experience of freelancers working in the live music industry.

The Hidden Side of Freelancing will explore pay transparency and the personal experiences of freelancers at live music events. 

It can be completed anonymously. The results will be assessed, then used in a publicly available report to be published in April 2024.

“This survey will give freelancers in our industry the information needed to get the most out of the work they do and help to deliver impact change for every freelancer and the organisations that rely on freelance talent,” said LIVE CEO Jon Collins.

Technical Production Manager Paul Jones says one of the biggest single questions raised on the Live Event Freelancers Forum is about wages and pay rates.

“This survey gives every live event freelancer a chance to give accurate and honest information, and anonymously if need be. 

“There has never been more of a need to gain accurate information on pay and conditions for the freelance community so we can gather valuable insight and help shape the future of our sector and industry well into the future.

“If you are a freelancer in the live sector, you should not ignore this survey. It should be one of the most important things you do in 2024. It's your industry, let’s make a difference.”

The survey will close on 23 February.

Performing arts workers facing ‘significant' childcare challenges

09 Jan 2024

A 'culture of silence' exists when it comes to discussing childcare issues in the performing arts sector, according to mothers interviewed as part of new research.

Museum Wales’ £325k payoff ‘least-worst outcome’

06 Dec 2023

Senior civil servants have defended their handling of an employment dispute that resulted in a payout of over £325k to the former Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru - Museum Wales - and legal costs of £420k.

On 30 November, the Senedd’s Public Accounts Committee heard from Andrew Slade, the Welsh Government’s Director General for  Economy, Skills and Natural Resources, who described the costs as reasonable, representing the “least-worst outcome” for taxpayers.

Asked whether the payment and fees provided value for money, Slade said that an employment tribunal would have taken about two years to resolve the issue, with the outcome potentially subject to appeal.

Labour MS Rhianon Passmore noted that a tribunal could have incurred significantly higher costs of £1.2m to £1.8m. 

The payout followed a longstanding employment dispute between the museum’s former Director General, David Anderson, and former President Roger Lewis, in which Anderson brought grievances against Lewis for bullying and discriminatory treatment. 

Under the terms of the settlement, Amgueddfa Cymru agreed to make Anderson, who stepped down in November last year,  payments of more than £325k.

A further settlement of £12k went to the former Chief Operating Officer, who also bought a grievance against Lewis, with total legal fees estimated at £420k.

During the committee hearing, Passmore asked why mediation did not occur for eight months after concerns were first flagged in the spring of 2021 following Lewis’s annual review. Slade responded that the government did not have a process in place to deal with a breakdown of relations between senior museum leaders.

In October, an auditor responsible for overseeing public spending in Wales raised concerns that the settlement may not have complied with the requirements of charity law.

Amgueddfa Cymru said in a statement that while it respects the Auditor General’s opinion, “some of the evidence provided has not been reflected in the report” and that “as a result, we do not feel it a fair representation of the events that occurred or fully considers the complicated circumstances which [we] had to resolve.
 

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