To be in Equity or not to be?

  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    I just wanted to make one thing clear about our beloved Equity.

    I have been in and out of acting for over a decade and from my experience Equity is only good if you don't have an agent, or if you had an agent and left them and still get residuals or payments for past jobs, Equity receive those payments and hold onto them until you join - I believe this to be wrong.

    In the past you had to be a member of Equity to get professional work, that no longer applies, they offer very little with regard to protecting actors rights and have no benefit in joining other than the above mentioned.

    So be careful not to feed the protectionist part of the Industry that only works for those that already work!

    • 8th Mar 2011
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  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Really? Equity gets the residuals and keeps them until you re-join? I find that very hard to believe but will check with my local branch.

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Lucy Wilkins

    Actor

    Hi, Long time reader but new poster as I felt i needed to chip in with this one.

    Ok so i realise it's upto individuals if they join Equity or not but I think having the backing of such an organisation can't be a bad thing, especially in this economic climate.

    For example What about the contracts they negotiate? I know you can use them if you're non-equity but without Equity we wouldnt have them in the first place and so no chance of protection from those looking exploit others. They also do alot of work if you are injured or pay is with held for whatever reason.

    They also fight for jobs and protecting theatres and against cuts to arts funding and in this climate thats no easy task, but the more people in Equity the more power they have especially if memebers are active. that way we might still have theatres to work in when the market recovers.

    I will admit I don't know about the residuals situation but I too have been in and out of work and Equity have always helped with any quires I have wether I have been working at the time or not.

    Personally I don't think they are a bad thing and who else is going to watch our backs? Plus meetings are a great networking opportunity!

    Lucy

    • 2nd Mar 2011
    • 2
  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Had a reply from the Equity site. As I suspected, the original post is a load of cobblers. Sorry Aceman - your post sounds like sour grapes to me:

    There is no truth in the statement being made 'on another site'. Equity will hold on to monies for performers only if they have no contact address for that performer or in the case of a deceased performer, their estate.

    Monies currently held for performers can be found at:

    www.equity.org.uk/login/members/MoneyHeldForMembers/

    British Equity Collecting Society (BECS) also distributes monies to performers. Their website is at:

    www.equitycollecting.org.uk/

    I hope that the above is of some help.

    With all good wishes,

    John Webb

    Equity Councillor.

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • User Deleted

    This profile has been archived

    If we promoted membership of Equity and gave it more clout then perhaps we'd be able to stop the number of "professional, well funded, great opportunity to work with" but we won't pay the actors a penny type of jobs we all dislike so much.

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Hear Hear

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    RE: 'They pay you your money even if your not a member' -

    Do you really think that I would post something without having experienced it myself?

    Cobblers? Think thats a tad rude when Im giving others the benefit of my experience. Im not bitter - just honest.

    Ill get my money then if its true - Ill keep you posted:)

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Sorry if I came over as rude - that wasn't my intent. But the reply I posted was from Equity. All you need do is get in touch with them and they will sort it out - they will not badger you to join and they certainly won't keep your money until you join. Have you actually asked them for the money and have they actually told you they will not give you the money until you join them?

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    yeap, they said that you have to be a member to get your money, as the ammount was less than the membership cost I left it.

    Also your link to retrieve money - You have to be a member! - lol;)

    • 2nd Mar 2011
    • 8
  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    If you like, I'll post your posting on the Equity forum so you can get an answer from them re this.

    I got this response as well:

    I have never known any agent (conventional or a co-operative) to stop receiving payments for ex-clients on work the client did whilst represented by the agent/agency and deducting commission before passing the nett payment on. This is normal practice. Payments received by Equity are usually because the agent has ceased trading / no longer exists / has died, and the employer has no other contact address for the artist - or they could be an arrangement made between Equity and an employer (usually in TV) for a lump sum for some kind of usage, although normally BECS distributes these sums, such as Video-on-Demand payments. I don't know if Equity receives the payment for non-members, but we do hold payments for lapsed members for whom we have no current contact details. (TV employers log contact details for an artist against the title of the programme, so different programmes can have different contact details. When an agency I was with ceased trading, I contacted the employers and told them to make all future payments directly to me.)

    • 2nd Mar 2011
    • 9
  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    To Lucy: Your points are all valid, I understand there are some benefits.

    But what I want as an actor is Equity to be a bastion for actors rights not an insurance outfit or simply accountants, especially in this digital age where anyone with a camera can post on sites like CCP, on the fringe theres no guidance issued by equity to all these new companies, there should be a standard code of conduct signed every time an artist takes on non paid work that protects our rights - have any of the beauracrats at equity considered that?

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    Well, I agree but that was quashed when Maggie came in and changed the rules.

    • 2nd Mar 2011
    • 11
  • Toni Brooks

    Actor

    From Tracey:

    Equity is only as strong as its members it is not just an insurance outfit or simply an accountant.

    Many ordinary Equity members who are actors, stage managers, dancers, directors etc put time and effort into Equity.

    The Equity branch in Bristol help to save the Bristol Old Vic from closure, my branch here in the Midlands help to keep BBC Doctors production here in Birmingham. Ordinary members are working all the time to make the UK a better place for Equity members working in the entertainment industry.

    Our union may not be perfect but it will continue to improve with the more members who become involved.

    We have some particularly fantastic and go getting proactive Equity members in our young members committee and our Independent Theatre Arts committee. May I suggest you check out their Facebook site's to have a better idea of all the work that is done by members for members.

    !/EquityITAC

    !/group.php?gid=114477418592383

    With all good wishes

    Tracey Briggs

    Chair Equity Midlands Area Committee

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Lucy Wilkins

    Actor

    Hi Aceman,

    I agree, there should be an agreement or someway of protecting artists in those environments. Maybe you could start a campaign and get it pushed through :)

    Lucy

    • 2nd Mar 2011
    • 13
  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    Ok Lucy, I will, and I'm doing this for all of us - Im tenacious enough:)

    • 2nd Mar 2011
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  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    On second thought - it would take a tremendous amount of time to research, publish and launch it succesfully, I dont have the time at the moment. So I couldn't commit to it, but I will compile a list of do's and dont's, Code of conduct and approaches to different types of artist's in rehearsal and beyond.

    All the best,

    Rob

    • 3rd Mar 2011
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  • Heather Rome

    Actor

    In regards to unhappiness with Equity's supposed lack of caring regarding fringe and low/no pay film productions, guidelines (which included sample contracts I believe) were created several years ago for both of these types of projects. From a legal point of view, if there is no collective agreement that includes a written contract, it is extremely difficult to pursue employers for bad conduct/bad faith. Therefore it is up to the individual to decide whether they want to create their own contract and then try to enforce it if things go wrong. I have done this when working on low-no pay films when I was not sent a copy of a film but it's bloody hard work.

    Like any organization Equity has to chose how and where it deploys it resources as they are finite. Given recent successes in new West End and regional rep contracts I'd say they are doing pretty well in economic climate of cuts (or slash and burn to be blunt) of the last several years.

    As regards their request that someone be a member of Equity before they pursue payment of a sum of money less than annual membership, compare this to any other membership or contract and ask yourself if it's that unreasonable.

    Of course Equity still has some way to go before it can be considered what I would call completely modernized: a new commercials agreement, a far better and interactive forum, among other things.

    But it has made efforts to create training opportunities for members, to reach in new ways and most importantly to raise its profile in a positive way so that it is no longer seen as an irrelevant dinosaur.

    • 3rd Mar 2011
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  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    Heather, you put it so beautifully I can't argue with that.

    I just feel that as actors when something goes wrong or decision are made through no fault of your own, purely because of in-experienced Directors or Producers, theres no mediation, and surely an actors union should offer mediation services for dissputes to be resolved on an artistic level outside of the judicial process. you do feel isolated and when an injustice occurs, there is noone to support you.

    • 3rd Mar 2011
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  • Nigel Peever

    Actor

    I couldn't help but giggle at these bits, sorry Aceman!

    Ok Lucy, I will, and I'm doing this for all of us - Im tenacious enough:)

    a day later

    On second thought - it would take a tremendous amount of time to research, publish and launch it succesfully, I dont have the time at the moment.

    Equity needs us all to stand behind it and hold it up as the true badge of professionalism it used to be.We can't keep out all the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers (and cobblers) that think it's fun to do a bit of acting once in a blue moon. Goodness knows if equity goes due to lack of interest from people like yourself how much further into chaos and exploitation this profession will descend.

    • 3rd Mar 2011
    • 18
  • Rob Marni

    Actor

    Yeah, your photo looks like your having a giggle - not much dram eh?

    The reason I changed my opinion was instinctively I wanted to do something, but then on second though why should I do what a whole union should be doing? think about that one clever cobb!:)

    • 3rd Mar 2011
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