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

(L-R) Stephen Brown, MU Midlands Regional Organiser, Louise Braithwaite, MU vice-Chair Midlands Regional Committee, and Rob Johnston, TUC Policy and Campaigns Officer


The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has pledged to ensure fair pay for creative sector workers during the Games and its six-month cultural programme.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), it also makes a commitment to ‘support and promote diversity in the engagement of professional creative sector workers who are based in Birmingham and the Midlands, in order to support the long-term cultural and economic prosperity of the region’.

The MoU has been signed by the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee and representatives of the Musicians’ Union, BECTU, Equity and the TUC.


Stephen Brown, Musicians' Union Regional Organiser for the Midlands and Chair of the TUC Midlands Creative and Leisure Industry Committee who brokered the agreement, said the MoU “ensures that creative sector workers at the Games get paid the right rate for the work they do, and it respects their intellectual property rights”.

He added: “Importantly, it also sets a benchmark for the best working practices in our industry ensuring a focus on delivering equality, diversity and inclusion, which is vital as a legacy for trade unions and the Games in our region.”

Professional respect

Among the specific points stated in the MoU, which expires at the end of 2022, is a commitment to respect nationally agreed rates of pay for cultural sector workers.

The agreement, which is not intended to be legally binding, says that payment rates ‘shall align with promulgated union rates where appropriate, and under the appropriate collective bargaining arrangements where they exist’.

Additionally, it commits the Games committee to actively encourage non-union members to seek contract advice from the signatory unions.

The five-page document also includes recognition of the status of artists and cultural workers, making a clear distinction between volunteers, community art and professional work.

Specific reference is made to students involved in ‘educational or developmental’ opportunities at the Games.

These should not, the MoU says, 'be engaged on terms that undermine, or replace, the requirement for professional creative sector workers but will instead supplement the professional creative workforce’.

In a statement, the Musicians' Union said the agreement will “build trust and confidence that will allow the full involvement of communities alongside properly paid and respected professional artists”.

The commitment to fair rates of pay would, the statement continued, eliminate “the risk of a race to the bottom on pay”.

Lee Barron, TUC Midlands Regional Secretary, said: “With artists rewarded fairly, community involvement championed and diversity and long-term support for our cultural economy at the heart of the strategy, this is truly a landmark agreement.”

Problems with diversity

The MoU’s commitment to diversity and equality follows a damning report from the community organisation Birmingham Race Impact Group (BRIG) earlier this year.

The report said that the city’s diverse communities were not fully included in the six-month, £12million cultural programme, which continues until the end of September.

These communities have been “largely shut out of direct involvement, business investment and other opportunities”, according to BRIG.

Brown told ArtsProfessional that he was aware of this “justified criticism” when discussing the MoU with the Games' legal team.

Because of this, specific clauses were added in order to “commit the Games to positive action in this matter”.

The clauses include cooperation with TUC Midlands Creative and Leisure Industry Committee in monitoring the Games' creative workforce ‘from a diversity and inclusivity perspective’.