Equity General Secretary Election

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    To all Equity members - who are up-to-date with their subs...

    At the end of September Equity will send out election forms, for a new General Secretary. Current General Secretary Ian McGarry is retiring. There should be 3 contenders for this position. I will be one of them.

    In previous General Secretary Equity elections; 76% of Equity members did not bother to vote. Democracy is very important; if we are to have a vibrant union that is forward looking. Some members seem to think that all they have to do - is pay their subs.

    If Equity is to be a force to be reckoned with when negotiating fees with employers; we must rely on the membership for their active support. It is vital that members participate in elections. Please do not waste your vote.

    Since 1996, when I met with Oliver Heald Under Secretary of State for Social Security, to stop the government removing Class 1 N.I. Status and unemployment benefit; I have sought to improve the working conditions of all performers. From 1997 I have been campaigning against bogus agencies charging up-front fees; with great success. Equity has finally admitted in the Autumn Journal (page 10) ‘Agency Regulations may be a paper tiger'; that the DTI have misled the union membership on up-front fee regulations. It took my personal intervention on this issue, to force the DTI - to admit that bogus agencies can still take up-front fees, as a precondition to representation.

    If you have any questions, please do let me know. Remember, whoever you support – please vote!

    Regards,

    Clive Hurst

    • 5th Oct 2005
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  • Sara Dee

    Actor

    Just pleased to see that someone from Equity is knowledgeable about these types of web sites that actors use to help themselves find work.

    Thank you for the enlightening information about your efforts. As a member of Equity, I will be using my vote.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Hi Saradee, glad to see that you are going to vote!

    Did you notice the full page advert on page 17 of the Equity Journal from CastNet Ltd? A complaint has been made to the Advertising Standards Authority regarding the claims made by this company. Watch this space...

    In their advertisement CastNet Ltd states that they have been providing their unique service since 1997, 8 years; can they prove this? According to Companies House, CastNet Ltd only started up on 25 April 2002.

    In their advertisement CastNet are making, what many would believe were grossly exaggerated claims - of the agency's ability to find you paid work. It states 98.5% of subscriber receive a casting within 4 weeks, 70% of all jobs offered are at industry-standard rates, 2000+ castings are sent out every week and that 10,000 actor searches are made every week. The agency also gives the impression that applicants can easily get 2 jobs worth £10,000, see testimonials. Can the agency prove these statements?

    The employment agency internet weekly fees, start from £6.50 per week, which works out at a yearly charge of £338. I am sure the Advertising Standards Authority will be able to determine this agencies claims - right or wrong...

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Marchia Brogan

    Actor

    Hi Clive

    That's quite a startling statistic - 76% do not vote, considering that everyone is quick to criticise Equity if they feel that the union is not giving them enough support or isn't up to date with the concerns affecting actors today.

    I will certainly be voting !

    Best wishes

    Mae

    x

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Thanks Mae, I would very much appreciate it if you can persuade your friends and colleagues to vote as well...

    Perhaps you can highlight this subject on other forums? I want 76% that DO vote; not 76% that don't.

    Let us all support our union, that is the only way we will ever achieve reasonable rates of pay; and decent working conditions!

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Sara Dee

    Actor

    Dear Clive,

    Yes I did notice the ad in the Equity journal about Cast Net and am very pleased you pointed out the concerns. I have been asked to join thier sevices on several occassions and was even offered a free subscription for a while which I declined.

    I did meet one of their representatives a few years ago on their stand at The Television Show. (Or is it known as The Broadcast Show now?) He was very friendly towards me until he found out I was an actress then he became rather evasive. Perhaps he wasn't expecting to meet artists there and felt unprepared, I couldn't say.

    I am not very sure what it takes to make the acting profession work in your favour but it seems to be, good training, inherant talent, likable personality, a willingness to work and research every opportunity that comes your way, good people and networking skills, a capability to publicise yourself (I took a PR diploma and seriously suggest Equity offers that via their Skill Set project ) and perseverence.

    To have anyone be a spokesperson for you requires a very trusting relationship or, in the case of a service provider, the ability to keep control and personally keep in touch which castingcallpro offers. I enjoy using this site and often recommend it to others. My personalised page is forever emailed to people and it is a great bonus that my showreels are available so easily.

    I have never met a director or casting person who uses CastNet, in my experience so far, although I do know a few actors who are pleased with the service. In my mind they are still under review and I prefer to pay for the trusted and traditional Spolight entry. I occassionally tap into Mandy, Shooting People and The Talent Circle on the internet with some success too.

    I have got two BBC jobs this year out of my Spotlight entry. I was Michelle Gunshon on Crimewatch and am a plant in a speed dating event for a programme within a BBC series called Body Watching to be shown in October. Being in work already also impressed the director of 'Riot At The Rite' so I was offered a role in that film too, (to be shown at Christmas, again on the good old BBC). Spotlight does work and is worth every penny! My agent finds it an invaluable tool too.

    Thanks again for highlighting the anomalies. You certainly have your finger on the pulse. If you know of other services or opportunities that have been known to work favourably for actors I'd be keen to hear your opinions.

    Good luck with the forthcoming election.

    SARA

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Thanks Sarah for the detailed response, which was very helpful. I too, at every opportunity - highlight the benefits of joining castingcallpro.com. It is so important to give praise when it is due, as well as - making complaints.

    As to CastNet Ltd, according to the latest accounts for the period 2003/4, obtainable from Companies House Internet website: log on to wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/e7aac7cd7e21c64b2f411f12948e4b8c//wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo CastNet Ltd has only one director, who is also the shareholder of one share, valued at £1. For the first year, 1 June 2002 to 31 May 2003, the company had a gross turnover of £87,448, less administrative expenses of £46,524, less a dividend of £34,000 paid to the director and only shareholder; which left a net retained profit after tax of £144.

    In the second year, 1 June 2003 to 31 May 2004, the company had a gross turnover of £321,575, less administrative expenses of £161,648, less a dividend of £95,000 paid to the director and only shareholder; which left a net retained profit after tax of £35,921. So, the operating profit (before taxation) in the 2nd year, after overheads expenses was £159,800, which in percentage terms - was a net profit margin of 50%. There are very few businesses with such small overheads, and a huge mark-up!

    Perhaps I should set up my own casting directory?

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    I have now been contacted today, by Danny Richman, director of CastNet Ltd, he advises me that CastNet started business in 1997, as a sole trader and became a limited company in 2002.

    Danny said "While I admire the campaigning work you have done to protect the acting community from cowboy operations, I do feel that it is unfair to tar every company in this field with the same brush."

    I agree. What we need are regulations that will stop the cowboys operating. No work, no fee - seems to be the only answer to this perenial problem.

    I have been asked by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) to meet with them towards the end of October on this issue.

    I would like to hear from anyone who has paid an up-front fee; and had no work in return.

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Laurence Saunders

    Actor

    Clive

    I admire your commitment to protecting actors from 'cowboy' agencies who rip off actors through charging upfront fees and then doing nothing to pursue work for them. As you say - 'no work, no fee': i.e. an agency should only make its money through the commission it charges on the work its actors do. I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is good to see someone who is so active on his fellow actors' behalf.

    But I have to say that Castnet is not an agency. It provides a service - emailing its subscribers regular casting breakdowns (that match their type and skillset) which subscribers can then choose to submit themselves for. In this way it is similiar to Castweb, Shooting People, Talent Circle, Acid and by extension Casting Call Pro, PCR, SBS and The Stage and any other casting service you care to mention (although the last four don't email details, I think, and SBS is not available for actors).

    The point being you have to pay to subscribe to, or purchase, all of the above services that provide this casting information. Castnet would seem to collate much of this information which it then forwards to its subscribers. Whether or not to purchase is a choice that the individual actor can make.

    Where Castnet shares similarities with an agency is that once the subscriber chooses which jobs he/she wants to be submitted for Castnet forwards their details to the relevant employer/casting director (in the form of a CV and laser copied photograph). Therefore, the subscriber has no admin costs (such as CVs and 10x8s) other than the £6.50 per week that it costs to subscribe to the service. Whether or not this represents good value or a rip-off depends on the amount of work the subscriber can put themselves up for.

    But Castnet is not an agency.

    On its website it clearly states: "CastNet is a unique, affordable casting service that helps eligible professional actors like you find work. We're not an agency, but can help you whether or not you currently have representation. We relieve you of all the work you could do yourself if you had unlimited time, financial backing and industry contacts."

    I am not a Castnet subscriber - I was for a few months last year and whilst I got a couple of auditions and jobs through the service I felt that it was not giving me access to the kind of work (and profile of work) that warranted me paying the weekly subscription. That was a choice that I was free to make. I'm sure Castnet has plenty of very happy subscribers.

    I do think that one has to be careful with the inferences one makes with regard to 'cowboys' though, especially when one is linking this to a bid for election to the post of Equity General Secretary.

    Maybe there is something to be done in terms of evaluating all the services provided by individuals and companies out there who profess to help actors get on in the profession (whether these be casting services, training courses, workshops etc). It can seem that the only people to benefit from many of these services and courses etc are those that provide them, but hey, that's free market economics for you. To infer illegal practices where they don't exist is a little wide of the mark. In this respect, it'll be interesting to see what the ASA make of Castnet's advertisement.

    Anyway, best of luck with the election.

    Best wishes

    Laurence

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Clive,

    I shall see you at Reading on Tuesday evening when you, and your two running mates, will be coming to our Branch Meeting "hustings"to talk to us.

    I am acting Secretary, on the Home Counties West Committee. I have emailing our Branch Members, telling them of the change in the Meeting. I hope

    we will have a good attendance for you.

    Brin Rosser.

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Thank you Lawrence for raising some good issues - for me to reply to…

    Newspapers such as The Stage, as far as the Department of Trade & Industry Employment Agency Standards (DTI EAS) are concerned; do not come under DTI EAS Regulations. As to work-seeking services that do come under EAS Regulations, they tend to fall into two separate groups.

    The first one is where there is an up-front registration (book) fee, for entry into a printed or electronic casting directory; and where a commission is also deducted from actual work supplied by the agency. Currently it is legal under DTI EAS Regulations - for such an agency to provide little or no work-seeking services; and for that agency to take up-front fees under false pretences. The term that the fee must be reasonable - has no real meaning/status in law, since what is 'reasonable' is open to interpretation. The DTI believe that £150 is reasonable.

    The second group is where a work seeking service (agency) charges an up-front registration (book) fee, for entry into a printed or electronic casting directory; and where no commission is deducted from actual work found through that work seeking service (agency). Currently it is legal under DTI EAS Regulations - for such an agency to provide little or no work-seeking services; and for that agency to take up-front fees under false pretences.

    Equity announced in The Stage in November 2004, that the union had previously lobbied and won a key concession from the DTI EAS, in the revised agency regulations that came into force from April 2004. Equity stated that an agency (that charged commission) could not make it a pre-condition, that a performer must pay an up-front registration (book) fee, prior to the agency taking on the performer. Also in the same article, when asked about up-front fees, Equity stated that they were not apposed to book fees; and never have been, which considering the article was about 'up-front' book fees, the statement, to me was quite shocking; and very confusing.

    I wrote in September 2004 to Ian McGarry General Secretary of Equity. Despite promising a response, showing me where Equity Conference had agreed such a motion; a year later I am still waiting. I wrote 2 letters to the Equity Journal on this up-front issue. Equity refused to publish them. In the Summer Equity Journal, page 10, Equity repeated its claim about there being a clause which meant "You do not have to go into an agent's casting book".

    I knew there was no such clause, I wrote to the DTI, who stated that Equity could advise their members; but I said to the DTI EAS - where is this regulation, show me the clause? After 6 weeks of blustering the DTI finally confirmed to me that there was no such clause in the agency regulations. In the Autumn Equity Journal, page 10, Equity stated "Agency Regulations may be a paper tiger", Equity "expressed its astonishment - had asked the DTI to explain the apparent conflict". My name (only) was mentioned in the article. I hope the above gives you an insight into what the DTI EAS constitutes - what is an 'agency'; it is a work-seeking service. But, some agencies state they are not an agency, to differentiate their service from that of an agency that charges commission - from work provided.

    As to the reference 'cowboys' I was merely agreeing with the director of CastNet… I believe that all performers should be protected from bogus up-front fees charged by work-seeking services. I have worked very closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over the last 6 years. Equity has previously stated that they do not have the expertise or time to follow up such complaints.

    There have been many cases where such advertisers have exaggerated their claims to find you work, statements such as "we have a groundbreaking partnership with the BBC" or "We are recognised throughout the industry", "Book supplied to Eastenders", have all proved to be false, in one way or another. Not every complaint is upheld, I do not have a crystal ball, but over 90% are proved to be false in one way or another.

    How do we put in regulations that protect legitimate work-seeking services/agencies; yet stop the 'cowboy' trading? Any DTI legislation must be very simple; and be free from misinterpretation. Most of all, it must be seen to work in the real world.

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Laurence Saunders

    Actor

    Clive

    Thanks for the above - especially for your clarification of the DTI regulations regarding 'work seeking services'. Certainly cleared up confusions in my mind.

    It seems that the regulations cover quite a broad area although it is disturbing to see how little protection these regulations actually provide performers with. What is more disturbing though is Equity's apparent apathy/inaction as regards the matter (as outlined above). But how can it be tackled?

    I suppose the get-out for any 'work seeking service' (and I'm guessing you could even include Spotlight in the definitions you've outlined above?) or agency is that they cannot guarantee an actor any work at all. No matter how good the service or agent if nobody wants to book a client (and there are all sorts of reasons why this may be the case) then they can't make them. This is a defence that even the 'cowboys' can use.

    It remains for the individual actor to be as well informed as possible - which is where forums like Casting Call Pro can have great value.

    In an industry where there are thousands of people desperate for work then there are always going to be people who take advantage of that - whether they are selling their services to market you, to act as your agent or to provide you with training... but then there are always going to be people whose services will be of great benefit to you too (like Spotlight for instance, or your agent, if they're any good).

    The phrase "sort the wheat from the chaff" springs to mind.

    Best wishes

    Laurence

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    Below is a response from the director of CastNet Ltd on the issue of bogus up-front fees. Danny is not a registered member of Castcallpro, so I am posting his message, for him: -

    Dear Clive

    I have been following your posting on 'Casting Call Pro' with interest.

    The situation with regard to agencies charging up-front fees is a mess. I don't think there are many people that would disagree with that statement. Probably not even the DTI if they were being really honest.

    I had lengthy consultation with the DTI last April and it was very apparent to me that this would be a very difficult issue to resolve through legislation.

    While the legal definition of an agency may be any "work seeking service", in practice this is too ambiguous and covers a whole range of different organisations and services.

    The way I see it, the DTI are torn between wanting to protect actors from cowboys who take their money and do nothing in return, while still allowing established services (e.g. CastNet and The Spotlight) to continue to trade without having to reduce the range of services they provide simply to comply with the legislation.

    I get as annoyed as you by those who take money from actors under false pretences. Attempting to solve this problem by classifying every work seeking service as an "agency" and banning all of these services from charging an up-front fee will not solve this problem. It is the equivalent of using a nuclear warhead to kill a fly. It is unreasonable and unworkable.

    Unfortunately, I am not sure there is any magic solution. Consumers pay up-front fees in all sorts of industries. 'The Stage' for example will not send me a copy of their paper until I have paid an up-front subscription fee. Even Government charges the self-employed income tax in advance of any services they may receive in return.

    When a company takes money from an actor and then does nothing in return for it, they are in breach of contract. It is that breach of contract that has harmed the actor, not the fact that they were charged an up-front fee.

    The problem is that many of these cowboys are not in breach of contract. They charge actors a fee to appear on a website or in a book that they claim will be sent to a number of employers. The book may well be sent, but will probably end up straight in the dustbin.

    I believe it is impossible to protect those naïve enough to hand over their money to these cowboys. It is hardly difficult in this day and age to research the reputation of almost any company. To the best of my knowledge "Caveat Emptor" still forms the basis of contract law.

    If a company has mislead actors in their advertising by claiming to have a relationship with employers that they do not have, then that is matter for the Advertising Standards Authority.

    A sizeable percentage of Equity members are also subscribers to this service and I am in constant communication with them. CastNet has been extremely supportive of Equity. I believe however that the seemingly contradictory messages coming from Equity and the DTI on this issue are as a result of an attempt to apply unworkable and inherently unreasonable legislation. If you would like to meet with me to discuss any of these issues, my offer still stands.

    Kind regards

    Danny Richman

    Managing Director

    • 1st Jun 2006
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    In 3 weeks time I have a meeting arranged with John Thorpe, head of Employment Agency Standards (EAS) at the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI).

    The main headings on my agenda are:

    1.Up-Front Fees.

    2.Cap Commission Rates.

    3.Re-Licensing of Agencies (Entertainment Industry only}.

    4.The right to the National Minimum Wage - after agency deductions. I have taken 2 Employment Tribunal cases and 1 Appeal case, which appears to have proved the DTI legal opinion flawed, on the issue of who employs whom - where the agency negotiates the fee...etc.

    5.Currently an employer cannot get the workers agreement - to be paid less than the NMW; it is illegal. We also have to outlaw the practice, where an employment agency demands the workers agreement, to similar unfair terms and conditions; such as being paid monthly - instead of within 10 days; and agreeing to agency deductions; which reduce the workers earnings - to less than the NMW; or no pay at all. This cannot be right or fair.

    Within these headings I would like to discuss the current DTI position: "To reiterate the Government's objective the restriction through the charging of up-front fees in the Conduct Regulations is to stop the practice of unscrupulous agencies making charges to work-seekers and providing them with little or no work-finding services."

    I would like to know; how the DTI actually stopped such practices occurring? I would also like to know; exactly how Equity were mislead (See Equity Autumn Journal page 10), when believing, that there was such a clause - that stopped agencies making it a precondition - to charge a registration up-front book fee? I would like the EAS to provide me with evidence, proving that the new regulations - have had any effect at all, against bogus work-seeking agencies; that provide - little work-seeking services.

    I wish to discuss issues regarding certain work-finding services; and what impact if any; the new 'up-front' regulations have had on such agencies?

    I would like to mention that estate agencies have their own 'casting directory' of houses that they are selling, on a commission only basis, no sale no fee. These 'agencies' do not charge an up-front fee; but just look at all the advertising they do in local newspapers etc... They charge a commission on the actual sale of the property. Estate agencies are not rewarded for failure; so why are work-seeking services rewarded for failure? Surely up-front (book) registration fees; can only lead to unrealistic and bogus offers of work? Look at the dozens of complaints that I have made to the ASA...

    Employment agencies in the entertainments industry act as 'gatekeepers' to work opportunities. Background agencies have a contradiction of interest, regarding who employs them, is it the hirer or is it the worker? If we look at who pays the agency - we have conflicting information. Historically under the PACT/FAA agreement the agency was paid by the hirer; until the hirer decided to change this practice (1996), due to agencies wanting to charge up-front fees!

    I do not think that we should change employment agencies into employment businesses; this would only exacerbate the problem. What we have to do; is to agree that we have a problem; we should then find answers - that would provide a level playing field for workers, agencies; and hirers.

    This brings me on to NASAA which currently looks as if it too - might be disintegrating - as did the previous association called ABAA.I think the DTI/DCMS should get both the BBC and PACT on board/involved in this issue, to back up NASAA. Remember, if I want to work for the BBC as background or walk-on, I have to work through an agency of BBC choice; therefore employers have to take some responsibility for the agencies they take on. This may need a change in UK law? We need to look into this. See my letter in the 'The Stage' dated 22 September.

    The DTI EAS has failed to publicize to the public and to performers; that if they get little or no work from an employment agency (in a year) after paying an up-front fee; that they should report this fact to the DTI EAS. If an employment agency was legally obliged to supply such an instruction to applicants - where an up-front fee is paid; then the DTI would be inundated with complaints!

    Those who are classed as 'workers' under employment regulations, have a right to protection from bogus up-front fees and unfair terms and conditions of employment; surely? No other worker, in any other profession has to pay up-front fees as a precondition to work; it is illegal!

    I think the above covers most of the items for discussion. I very much look forward to this meeting with the DTI EAS.

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 12
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    All Equity members have the chance to meet all three of the candidates, for the top post within Equity. There have been three 'hustings' so far, Ringwood,Tilehurst and Maidstone, in this last week.

    Next week there is another, in Manchester on Wednesday 5th October, from 6pm onwards at 'The Friends Meeting House', 6 Mount Street, off Albert Square, Manchester M2.

    All the candidates have to pay all there own traveling expenses, so please (if you can) make every effort to come to this meeting. The venue is only a 10 minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly Station.

    On Tuesday 11th October, at 7-30pm onwards there will be another 'husting' at the 'Harlow Playhouse' College Gate, Harlow in Essex.

    Another one is on Saturday 15th October, 11am onwards at the Nightingale Theatre, above the Grand Central Pub, opposite Brighton Station.

    There will be a venue in London on 12th or 13th October. As soon as I have the details I will advise you all.

    Make your vote count; whoever you vote for!

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
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  • Claire Dodin

    Actor

    Hi!

    I would like to say a word in favour of castnet.

    They are not a rip of, far from it.

    In the last month I got one job paid about £3000 for 2 weeks work, one job paid £300 for two hours work and one play at £310 per week; all of these through castnet!

    I think I've had a lucky month, but please don't make them shut down! They are the best thing that has happened to actors recently!

    The fee of £6.50 per week is very cheap because they send the letters for you! You don't have to pay for the repros of the photographs, the envelope or the stamps and it saves you time! All you have to do is click on the jobs you want to apply for!

    They are great, so please don't put them into trouble because of an advert!

    I am an equity member, I do have a very good agent but I am still very gratefull to castnet for what they have done for me! (and no, they haven't paid me to say that, they don't even know I'm writing this!)

    I am sure there are lots of websites that are a rip off but castnet is not one of them!

    thanks,

    Claire.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 14
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    Hi Claire,

    Glad to hear that you are getting work through CastNet. As to, "please don't make them shut down!" I'm a little bewildered by your statement; and the one "please don't put them into trouble because of an advert!"

    CastNet Ltd is a highly profitable business, which made its single director/shareholder a handsome profit of over £160,000; after all overhead expenses, for the year 2003/2004 (according to Companies House). I cannot make any company - shut down.

    The Advertising Standards Authority (not me) is responsible for deciding what is and what is not legal, decent, honest and truthful. Are you saying the ASA should not be asked to adjudicate on such matters? Are we being naïve; if we never challenge such advertisements?

    What I am suggesting, is that work-seeking services - are rewarded for success; not for failure. That change will not close such work-seeking services; it will merely change the way such agencies - charge for their services.

    The Internet has dramatically cut costs; since everything is paperless; where routine tasks can be initiated by a click of a mouse. In the years ahead - there are going to be even more of these types of work-seeking services setting up. It is a highly profitable business - as I have just proved.

    What is successful for you; may not be successful for others. It is my job to think about ALL Equity members. A young student Equity member wrote the following to me recently "Do you know of any legitimate agents and casting agencies as I am finding it hard to trust anyone at present. It seems that there are many people out there who prey on artists who are desperate for work, take their hard earned money and run."

    Danny Richman, director of CastNet says "it is impossible to protect those naïve enough to hand over their money to these cowboys." So, everyone who has parted with an up-front fee to a work-seeking service, is being naïve? What is a cowboy? Is it where you pay an up-front fee and get no work? How can you tell who is a cowboy; and who is not?

    The Department of Trade & Industry Employment Agency Standards (DTI EAS) stated to me last week, "To reiterate the Government's objective the restriction through the charging of up-front fees in the Conduct Regulations is to STOP the practice of unscrupulous agencies making charges to work-seekers and providing them with little or no work-finding services." Was Equity being naïve, when taken in by these false DTI promises?

    I certainly was not…

    Best wishes,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 15
  • Claire Dodin

    Actor

    Hi!

    I over reacted in my previous message but I feel betrayed by my own union when I see that people like you waste time fighting against companies that actively help us find paid jobs when there are so many other companies you could spend time on. I see so many google adds for "casting" companies that charge you £1.50 per message they send you and you have no control over how many messages you receive etc... So why pick on castnet? They do not charge an upfront fee, they are not an agency. I know many very happy castnet members.

    I would rather you spend time trying to convice companies that employ hundreds of actors touring schools in panto to pay the actors a decent wage. They work their actors very hard, sometimes 4 show a day for a wage of less than £250 per week. The companies are making a lot of money and could afford to pay their actors better.

    It seems to me that equity is fighting the wrong battles sometimes.

    The acting business is tough, and I get upset when my union seems to be working against my interest.

    regards,

    Claire.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 16
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    Thanks Claire,

    As to CastNet; they do charge an up-front fee.

    I have taken many, many complaints about Premium Line calls/text messages at £1.50 to the DTI, ASA and ICSTIS; and written in The Stage letters section on this subject. One such company I complained about was fined £800 by ICSTIS. These are all - up-front fees…

    As to the National Minimum Wage, according to the DTI, I have been the only person to bring a complaint to the Inland Revenue/DTI where a performer was paid less than the NMW; it would appear that Equity has never taken up such a case. I have campaigned long and hard on this issue. See my website www.anactor.net .

    People like me, (by the way my name is Clive) spend a lot of time; and a great deal of effort in trying to protect performers like you from bogus up-front fees. Yes the acting business is tough; let's not make it even tougher…

    I do a thankless job, when you put your head above the parapet, you get shot at; and your work opportunities evaporate. But, once in a while - somebody says thank you; and then it all seems so worthwhile…

    Sincerely,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 17
  • Claire Dodin

    Actor

    Dear Clive,

    I'm sorry if I offended you, I am sure that you work very hard, but you were very quick to condemn a good company on a public forum. I felt that it was unfair.

    regards,

    Claire.

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 18
  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    On Wednesday 12th October, at 2pm - Equity has chosen the Conference Hall at BECTU, 373-377 Clapham Road, London SW9 9BT - for their London Hustings venue, where Equity members can put questions to all three candidates - standing in the Equity Election for General Secretary. Clapham North is the nearest underground station, BECTU is a two minute walk.

    As you know, on Tuesday 11th October, at 7-30pm onwards there will be a 'Hustings' at the 'Harlow Playhouse' College Gate, Harlow in Essex.

    On Saturday 15th October, 11am onwards there will be a 'Hustings' at the Nightingale Theatre, above the Grand Central Pub, opposite Brighton Station.

    It is important that everyone who is entitled to vote (Equity paid up members) should vote in this election. Remember seventy six percent of Equity members have not previously voted in such elections; I want 76% that do!

    All the candidates have to pay all their own traveling expenses, so please (if you can) make every effort to come to one of these meetings.

    Make YOUR vote count; whoever you vote for...

    Regards,

    Clive

    • 1st Jun 2006
    • 19