I have to say we’re saddened but not surprised today to see the piece in The Stage newspapers about the working conditions for theatre-in-education actors.
Yes, theatre in education is a very hard job with long hours and low pay, I’ve worked on numerous tours myself as an actor back in the day and know just how tough it can be.
Theatre in education companies have been squeezed over the years, especially in the past few years where budgets are getting smaller as smaller as more and more funding is cut for both the companies and the schools they work in and sadly in order to make ends meet it is the actors who suffer as theatre companies scramble to stay in budget. This is particularly tragic because the actors are the mainstay of the company. Without such fabulous actors we wouldn’t have been in business for as long as we have.
I’m happy to say this doesn’t happen at Act On Info as we try and treat our actors fairly and pay a decent amount but this is getting harder to do and I’m so glad this is being brought to the attention of Equity. It can only be a good thing that we start to have an open and honest discussion about how actors are treated on small scale tours and WHY this is happening – quality theatre in education as whole is getting harder and harder to sustain. Schools have less and less money, the knock on effect of which is that they can’t always afford “luxuries” such as taking pupils on trips or booking in outside companies. The schools that do book are having to use their overstretched budgets or asking parents to find the money to pay for an experience so they quite rightly expect more and more from visiting companies, BUT they want a bigger, better, more extravagant performance with more pupils in the shows for the same amount or less money than they paid the year before. So theatre in education companies have to up their game but due to less and less bookings and prices having to be cut to be competitive are unable to fund the resources to do this.
It’s such a shame it’s come to this and we’ll be following the news on this very closely.