No pay and low pay unite writers, actors and musicians in Parliament

Stark statistics on wages for those working in the creative and entertainment industries were outlined at a Performers’ Alliance House of Commons reception on 9 December 2014.

Kerry McCarthy MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group, whose member unions include WGGB, Equity and the Musicians’ Union, also drew attention to the increasing practice of asking musicians, actors and writers to work for free.

In her introductory speech, in the House of Commons Strangers’ Dining Room, she highlighted that:

  • The Writers’ Guild Free is NOT an Option survey last year found that 87% of TV writers had experienced a significant increase in the amount and kinds of work they had been asked to do for free.
  • Research from the Musicians’ Union showed that more than half of professional musicians work for less than £20,000 per year, and that 60% had worked for free over the previous year.
  • A survey conducted by Equity last year found that virtually half of actors earned under £5,000 per year and 86% less than £20,000 per year.

Other issues affecting all three unions’ members included a “triple whammy” of arts funding cuts – at a national and local level, plus greater difficulty getting funding outside London.

The need for more effective equality monitoring, and diversity across the creative industries, was also highlighted.

Members from all three unions take part in this annual event, which gives them the opportunity to lobby MPs, peers and ministers on individual issues. The In Battalions campaign, by Guild member and playwright Fin Kennedy, was the result of a conversation he had with Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey MP at the Performers’ Alliance 2012 reception.

Ed Vaizey MP attended again this year and drew attention in his speech to the Government’s announcement, in the recent Autumn Statement, for tax breaks for children’s TV.

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Harriet Harman MP was also present and stated in her speech that access to arts, culture and creativity should be the right of everybody, not the few.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Sajid Javid MP also attended.