Equity (British trade union)
38,197 (2013)43,555 (2017)
|Affiliation||TUC, ICTU, STUC, FEU, FIA|
|Office location||Guild House, Upper St Martins Lane, London|
Equity, formerly officially titled the British Actors' Equity Association (although Equity was always its common name), is the trade union for actors, stage managers and models in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1930 by a group of West End performers and, in 1967, it incorporated the Variety Artistes' Federation.
Equity was one of the last of the closed shop trade unions in the UK. This was criticised in 1981 and made illegal in 1988, with the result that it is no longer a requirement that an entertainment professional be a member of Equity.
Like many other British trade unions, Equity operated a closed shop policy—it was not possible for someone to join unless they had sufficient paid work, and most jobs were reserved for Equity card holders. To allow new members to join, there was a limited number of non-card holding jobs on regional productions. Whilst working on these productions, actors held a provisional membership card, and, on completing the requisite number of weeks, could apply for full membership, and thereafter work in the West End, or on film and television.
As a result of reforms of trade unions by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, and the introduction of European legislation, closed shop unions became illegal in the UK and Equity discontinued this policy in the 1980s. However, to join, evidence must be provided of sufficient paid professional work.
In 1976, Equity introduced a policy of refusing to sell programmes to the South African Broadcasting Corporation, an action that led to a virtual blackout of British television in apartheid South Africa.
- 1932: Godfrey Seymour Tearle
- 1940: Lewis Thomas Casson
- 1946: Beatrix Lehmann
- 1948: Leslie Banks
- 1949: Felix Aylmer
- 1969: Ernest Clark
- 1973: André Morell
- 1975: Hugh Manning
- 1978: John Barron
- 1982: Hugh Manning
- 1984: Derek Bond
- 1986: Nigel Davenport
- 1992: Jeffry Wickham
- 1994: Frederick Pyne
- 2002: Harry Landis
- 2008: Graham Hamilton
- 2010: Malcolm Sinclair
- 2018: Maureen Beattie
- Equity (Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation): annual returns. UK Certification Officer.
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