No magic beans, No fairy godmother, No three wishes,
Just a union you can believe in!
So goes the (pretty good I think) strap line of Equity’s new campaign to coincide with the forthcoming panto season. Equity is the UK union that organises artists in professional entertainment. This includes singers, actors, dancers, directors, stage managers, radio and TV presenters etc.
Today I’ve been doing an organising skills briefing for Equity deputies (workplace reps) and discovered one or two things that must be unique to Equity. The first being that at any one time up to 85% of Equity members aren’t working (at least in an a job in the entertainment industry). Also, it’s not uncommon for Equity deputies to collect subs rather than relying on check-off or direct debit.
Equity appears to have pulled of the trick of being a well respected specialist union providing a range of profession related services for its members whilst at the same time placing a priority on building workplace organisation.
The practicalities of the industry and the fact that many members don’t have long term contracts might remove the emphasis on workplace structures but for Equity it appears that the opposite is true in that the workplace (a theater or studio etc) is where members have the best opportunity of coming into contact with the union, hence the emphasis on ensuring that there are active and well supported Equity deputies wherever there are members no matter how small the company (I.e cast and crew is) or short the run of the production.
You can find out more about Equity at www.equity.org.uk