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Move for fair pay and conditions in dance

Posted on January 20, 2017

Equity, the artists’ trade union, and DanceEast have agreed an innovative policy on choreographic commissions. An attempt to tackle low pay and poor conditions in commissioned dance work, the policy will apply to all commissions awarded by DanceEast from January 1, 2017.

The policy has several key elements. It requires choreographers to pay rates that at least match those agreed between Equity and the Independent Theatre Council. It also guarantees the provision of high-quality dance facilities when rehearsal space is provided – something outlined in Equity and One Dance UK’s Fit to Dance Space charter. When a commission does not cover producing costs, choreographers will be given adequate time to apply to other funding sources.

Nick Keegan, Equity’s dance councillor, said: “We are increasingly seeing commissions advertised by institutions that expect projects to be delivered on insufficient budgets and in very short time frames. The people who suffer from these commissions are always the performers and choreographers who end up working in unacceptable conditions, whether that be for low pay or no pay, unreasonable hours, unpaid overtime, lack of holiday pay or unsafe working environments. DanceEast has a reputation as a responsible dance employer and commissioning body. I am delighted to see them working with Equity to develop this new policy and be industry leaders for responsible commissioning.”

Equity’s Beth Doran added: “While Arts Council England has a very clear policy on pay for those receiving funding, this has never been extended to grants allocated by commissioning bodies. Equity approached DanceEast due to its reputation for treating choreographers and performers fairly and we are pleased to have achieved such a positive outcome. I hope this policy will be the first of many agreed between Equity and other commissioning bodies.”

 

Picture: The Jerwood DanceHouse, DanceEast. Photograph: Rachel Tarkenter

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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