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Brexit, EU citizenship and job opportunities


Cluelessmomma
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Ah, had that always been the case? I didn’t know that. Yes, I agree, most ballet dancers surely want a full-time contract, not a temporary one where they are freelance. 

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Just now, rowan said:

Ah, had that always been the case? I didn’t know that. Yes, I agree, most ballet dancers surely want a full-time contract, not a temporary one where they are freelance. 

Yes, past adverts have also been limited to those who already had the right to work in the UK (which included EU nationals as well whilst we were still members). I suspect the cost and bureaucracy of getting visas for so many dancers necessitates that. 

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7 hours ago, Goldenlily17 said:

I’d like to see a world with open borders for cultural workers (including the USA) 

 

Totally agree with you, and I too was passionate about being European, part of the EU, and the freedom of movement that enabled. The loss for young people is just awful.

 

But we are where we are; it is what it is ... I think any action to be taken needs to accept that, first & foremost - and then think pragmatically about what can be done. 

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On 30/07/2021 at 17:26, danceparent said:

As a very strong anti Brexiteer married to the son of an immigrant family this is most certainly not my standpoint! However, for ballet dancers EU jobs for EU citizens was undeniably a reality in the 2020-2021 audition season - either stated directly in job adverts or communicated in other ways - as someone has referenced either in this thread or the Radio 4 discussion one,  interest shown but made clear no help can be given with visa applications or being directly asked for passport status in email communication with companies/directors before material would be viewed. My DC experienced all of this first hand. 
Maybe this will be a short lived situation, something that will be ironed out in negotiations at some point in the foreseeable future, but in a time limited career it has rung the death knell for many young (predominantly female) careers before they even had chance to prove themselves. 

Precisely. This is why is really is important to write to Equity with an account of personal experiences and to your MPs. They can’t know what is happening if they aren’t told. It is also important for dancers to back the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ initiatives. The musicians’ unions are powerful, and the interests of opera singers in particular are aligned with ballet dancers. We cannot just wring our hands. We need to fight for the reinstatement of some kind of level playing field. If international dancers can continue to gain visas to work in the UK because the UK government is favourable to global talent and prepared to offer loopholes, British dancers must regain some level of opportunity in a larger overseas market.

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It was great this morning to wake up to the news that the government has agreed visa free touring for UK artists in 19 EU countries! 

 

The countries with agreements in place are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.  

 

The government is now in negotiations with the remaining 8 EU countries, with the aim of reaching a similar agreement there. 

 

Whilst not perfect, this is a huge step forward and just goes to show what lobbying can achieve. The success is largely thanks to tireless campaigning from the Musicians Union on behalf of their members, and household names in the music industry stepping in and lending their voices to help those who are less well known. 

 

The question now is who will speak up for the interests of our dancers? Whilst this news will come as a welcome relief to companies, individual British dancers desperately need reciprocity to be reinstated with Europe for contracts too.

 

If some big names in the dance world could find the courage and compassion to speak up for our ballet dancers, this would go a long way. 

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44 minutes ago, Pirouette said:

It was great this morning to wake up to the news that the government has agreed visa free touring for UK artists in 19 EU countries! 

 

The countries with agreements in place are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.  

 

The government is now in negotiations with the remaining 8 EU countries, with the aim of reaching a similar agreement there. 

 

Whilst not perfect, this is a huge step forward and just goes to show what lobbying can achieve. The success is largely thanks to tireless campaigning from the Musicians Union on behalf of their members, and household names in the music industry stepping in and lending their voices to help those who are less well known. 

 

The question now is who will speak up for the interests of our dancers? Whilst this news will come as a welcome relief to companies, individual British dancers desperately need reciprocity to be reinstated with Europe for contracts too.

 

If some big names in the dance world could find the courage and compassion to speak up for our ballet dancers, this would go a long way. 

Well said. Dancers need visa waivers to work in Europe just as much as musicians do, but unlike musicians they have no figurehead or dedicated dance union to fight for them. It is vital now that dance parents who care about their exceptional children’s future prospects, and dancers themselves, write to their MPs. The Department of Culture, Music and Sport is currently in discussion with the Home Office about this very issue. I received this news from my own MP yesterday.
 

To date the departments have not heard from dancers. This is the time to make the case for visa waivers for up to 1 year to permit dancers to take up contracts in the above countries. There are so many companies in these countries which have hitherto provided first jobs for British graduates and also short and annual contracts for freelance dancers. Please write to your MPs.

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30 minutes ago, Goldenlily17 said:

 

To date the departments have not heard from dancers. This is the time to make the case for visa waivers for up to 1 year to permit dancers to take up contracts in the above countries. There are so many companies in these countries which have hitherto provided first jobs for British graduates and also short and annual contracts for freelance dancers. Please write to your MPs.

 

Which departments should people be writing to as well as their MPs?  If your MP is not in the majority party they may not have much sway.

 

Is Equity also in discussion.  Surely dancers have the right to join that union which could provide something of a voice for them.

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Write to your MP - it doesn't matter which party they are from. Inspite of the posturing before elections and for the media, most of the real work in Parliament is done by cross party committes and the Chair may well be from an opposition party, not necessarily from the majority party which forms the Government. 

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29 minutes ago, rowan said:

There is a template in a link by the organisation OnedanceUK which may be of help:

https://www.onedanceuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Write-to-your-MP-template-message.docx

This is great, and covers many of the key points.

 

For those dancers personally affected by this (or whose children, friends or students have been affected), it would be good to include personal stories as well. MPs receive a lot of correspondence, and I've heard that the pieces which have the biggest impact are those that set the problem in a personal context. It is worth remembering too, that all correspondence with your MP is confidential. 

 

Both approaches are helpful and needed - if we can show *both* personal stories of those affected, *and* a high volume of concern from the wider public through use of this template, we are more likely to succeed. 

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2 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

Which departments should people be writing to as well as their MPs?  If your MP is not in the majority party they may not have much sway.

 

Is Equity also in discussion.  Surely dancers have the right to join that union which could provide something of a voice for them.

The group of MPs who attended the debate on the petition for visa waivers for musicians on 29th June were both Labour and Conservative. They came to the discussion with Caroline Dineage, the Minister for Culture, and Lord Frost to discuss the needs of their constituents. They did so with passion. My MP is doing the same for me on behalf of dancers which is why dancers’ needs are being discussed. So please write to your MP and explain how crucial it is for dancers’ as well as musicians’ needs to be considered.

 

Dancers can join Equity of course, but the union does not seem to be very focused or especially well informed about issues affecting dancers. It is primarily an actors’ union, with sub-set groups included, like dancers, acrobats and circus performers - as they put it. They have negotiated a dance passport which they are pleased with, but this only gives help to dancers already based and working in a given EU country through the local performing arts unions, it isn’t a passport to work.

Please don’t use Equity’s template, write a personal letter. Many MPs don’t respond to round-robins and petition requests.

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1 hour ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Write to your MP - it doesn't matter which party they are from. Inspite of the posturing before elections and for the media, most of the real work in Parliament is done by cross party committes and the Chair may well be from an opposition party, not necessarily from the majority party which forms the Government. 

Absolutely

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1 hour ago, Pirouette said:

This is great, and covers many of the key points.

 

For those dancers personally affected by this (or whose children, friends or students have been affected), it would be good to include personal stories as well. MPs receive a lot of correspondence, and I've heard that the pieces which have the biggest impact are those that set the problem in a personal context. It is worth remembering too, that all correspondence with your MP is confidential. 

 

Both approaches are helpful and needed - if we can show *both* personal stories of those affected, *and* a high volume of concern from the wider public through use of this template, we are more likely to succeed. 

Bravo on all accounts.  MPs want to know how policy has affected you or your children and friends. Your letter will be confidential.

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4 hours ago, Goldenlily17 said:

<snip>

 

Dancers can join Equity of course, but the union does not seem to be very focused or especially well informed about issues affecting dancers. It is primarily an actors’ union, with sub-set groups included, like dancers, acrobats and circus performers - as they put it. They have negotiated a dance passport which they are pleased with, but this only gives help to dancers already based and working in a given EU country through the local performing arts unions, it isn’t a passport to work.

 

 I think you do not understand how Equity works  

 certainly the impression get from my friends who are equity members due to deriving  a decent proprtion of their income from performing   are no where near as dismissive 

as with any trades union it;s the  members activity  that  supports the wider cause and  regardless  of how good the Officers and Representatives  are   without  members   a union is poor and  doesn;t have the   impact  through  weight of numbers  

( disclaimer here I am an Accredited Trades Union Rep  for a  non-affiliated Trade Union in the  Industry i derive most of  my income from ) 

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19 minutes ago, NJH said:

 I think you do not understand how Equity works  

 certainly the impression get from my friends who are equity members due to deriving  a decent proprtion of their income from performing   are no where near as dismissive 

as with any trades union it;s the  members activity  that  supports the wider cause and  regardless  of how good the Officers and Representatives  are   without  members   a union is poor and  doesn;t have the   impact  through  weight of numbers  

( disclaimer here I am an Accredited Trades Union Rep  for a  non-affiliated Trade Union in the  Industry i derive most of  my income from ) 

I understand where both NJH and GoldenLily17 are coming from. 

 

There certainly aren't enough ballet dancers in Equity, that's for sure. I have done contracts where it transpired that only one or two out of a dozen or more dancers were members when the rep turned up to the meeting.

 

I think this situation is due to a combination of despondency, a (somewhat justified) fear of rocking the boat, and the fact that - up until brexit - many UK dancers have spent the majority of their working lives abroad. They may not feel that an occasional UK contract justifies the subs, after all, most dancers are not particularly well paid. 

 

I also think that the fairly high turnover due to the short career span makes dancers more vulnerable, as there will be fewer older and more experienced performers around to speak up about conditions or when something isn't right. This is in contrast to say, opera singers or musicians, who can carry on working until retirement age, and who - with the benefit of all that extra experience - are much more difficult to take advantage of. I think that might play a part in why their unions are stronger and more effective.

 

My personal experience is that Equity weren't very effective in negotiating pay disputes, which perhaps deters dancers from joining, but, as you say, how can they be effective if nobody joins?

 

I'd urge all dancers, professionals and students to join Equity and make your voices heard. 

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57 minutes ago, Goldenlily17 said:

I agree. It is important that Equity has more members who are ballet and contemporary dancers. However, dancers really meed their own union.

Yes, a union focused on the specific needs of dancers would be ideal. 

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20 hours ago, Goldenlily17 said:

The group of MPs who attended the debate on the petition for visa waivers for musicians on 29th June were both Labour and Conservative. They came to the discussion with Caroline Dineage, the Minister for Culture, and Lord Frost to discuss the needs of their constituents. They did so with passion. My MP is doing the same for me on behalf of dancers which is why dancers’ needs are being discussed. So please write to your MP and explain how crucial it is for dancers’ as well as musicians’ needs to be considered.

 

Dancers can join Equity of course, but the union does not seem to be very focused or especially well informed about issues affecting dancers. It is primarily an actors’ union, with sub-set groups included, like dancers, acrobats and circus performers - as they put it. They have negotiated a dance passport which they are pleased with, but this only gives help to dancers already based and working in a given EU country through the local performing arts unions, it isn’t a passport to work.

Please don’t use Equity’s template, write a personal letter. Many MPs don’t respond to round-robins and petition requests.

I’d also be interested to know what enables a dancer (or actor) to join Equity? Back in my dark ages days, you had to have an ‘equity recognised’  contract for work at equity rates of pay....this discounted much of the first jobs many took (certainly in acting....think little touring companies & profit share that were all too commonly the work pitched for graduates offering no or minimal pay & pretty poor work conditions & no stability) I imagine that low pay/no pay is still rife in the arts; pitched as chances to get experience/to be seen/something on CV. It always struck me as ludicrous that only if you had enough jobs that  matched equity conditions could you join the union when surely any union should be there to protect the vulnerable, the naïve & the basically abused as let’s face it much of this type of work frankly was/is. I hope minimum wage etc has sorted some of these issues? But I doubt it....

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Re Equity membership - it’s quite straightforward for dancers. You need to earn £500 from any area of work covered by Equity - it doesn’t have to be on an Equity contract - and the earnings threshold is less if you are below a certain age. Also, a contract from work abroad also counts for making you eligible. You can also join as a student.

 

For others in the creative industries, more working behind the scenes, so possibly not directly useful to dancers per se, there is also the BECTU union - Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union. 

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53 minutes ago, Peanut68 said:

I’d also be interested to know what enables a dancer (or actor) to join Equity? Back in my dark ages days, you had to have an ‘equity recognised’  contract for work at equity rates of pay....this discounted much of the first jobs many took (certainly in acting....think little touring companies & profit share that were all too commonly the work pitched for graduates offering no or minimal pay & pretty poor work conditions & no stability) I imagine that low pay/no pay is still rife in the arts; pitched as chances to get experience/to be seen/something on CV. It always struck me as ludicrous that only if you had enough jobs that  matched equity conditions could you join the union when surely any union should be there to protect the vulnerable, the naïve & the basically abused as let’s face it much of this type of work frankly was/is. I hope minimum wage etc has sorted some of these issues? But I doubt it....

You can join as a student or as a graduate member for two years, after which I believe you move automatically into full membership (please correct me if I'm wrong, this may have changed). This used to be from an accredited school (which covered most of the main ones) but the joining criteria look more generous now.  You can read them here: 

 

https://www.equity.org.uk/about/how-to-join/

 

All the major UK ballet companies, New Adventures, West End, the major Opera companies, and most other large productions tend to use Equity contracts. This is not the case in the smaller companies though - I think Ballet Cymru may be a notable positive exception here. There are other companies that historically paid a wage which didn't add up the national minimum wage when divided by the number of hours worked, let alone the Equity minimum wage! Unsure whether this is still the case. 

 

Broadway workers ran a successful campaign earlier this year to make it compulsory to include pay details for job adverts in certain major publications. If only this could happen for dancers too! Often dancers travel miles to attend auditions that they would never have bothered with had they been aware of the pay. It would certainly expose the truth of the situation and then something might be done about it.  

 

I still think that the current biggest problem lies with the second company/apprentice situation though. This is a relatively new phenomenon... Which brings me back to the original point - we need to write to MPs for fair access to jobs so that it doesn't proliferate further. 

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4 hours ago, Pirouette said:

You can join as a student or as a graduate member for two years, after which I believe you move automatically into full membership (please correct me if I'm wrong, this may have changed). This used to be from an accredited school (which covered most of the main ones) but the joining criteria look more generous now.  You can read them here: 

 

https://www.equity.org.uk/about/how-to-join/

 

All the major UK ballet companies, New Adventures, West End, the major Opera companies, and most other large productions tend to use Equity contracts. This is not the case in the smaller companies though - I think Ballet Cymru may be a notable positive exception here. There are other companies that historically paid a wage which didn't add up the national minimum wage when divided by the number of hours worked, let alone the Equity minimum wage! Unsure whether this is still the case. 

 

Broadway workers ran a successful campaign earlier this year to make it compulsory to include pay details for job adverts in certain major publications. If only this could happen for dancers too! Often dancers travel miles to attend auditions that they would never have bothered with had they been aware of the pay. It would certainly expose the truth of the situation and then something might be done about it.  

 

I still think that the current biggest problem lies with the second company/apprentice situation though. This is a relatively new phenomenon... Which brings me back to the original point - we need to write to MPs for fair access to jobs so that it doesn't proliferate further. 

Pay in ballet is terrible. Freelance short contracts will pay the Equity minimum, and right now some jobs paying as little as £350 per week.  Those lucky enough to get full contracts can expect around £20,000 at entry. So if you work this out as an hourly sum including performances, you might be doing a 13 hour day. That means corps de ballet dancers earn less that the people who clean the theatres in which they perform. Pretty shocking when you consider that they are the people audiences pay to see, and, more shocking when you look at company accounts and see the six figures sums being earned by artistic directors.
Not wishing to go too off topic, all of this proves just how vulnerable dancers are, how limited employment opportunities are, and how important it is for dancers’ voices to be heard by their MPs on a range of topics.

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21 minutes ago, Goldenlily17 said:

Pay in ballet is terrible. Freelance short contracts will pay the Equity minimum, and right now some jobs paying as little as £350 per week.  Those lucky enough to get full contracts can expect around £20,000 at entry. So if you work this out as an hourly sum including performances, you might be doing a 13 hour day. That means corps de ballet dancers earn less that the people who clean the theatres in which they perform. Pretty shocking when you consider that they are the people audiences pay to see, and, more shocking when you look at company accounts and see the six figures sums being earned by artistic directors.
Not wishing to go too off topic, all of this proves just how vulnerable dancers are, how limited employment opportunities are, and how important it is for dancers’ voices to be heard by their MPs on a range of topics.

Agree with all of that. Just wanted to add that for women, the pointe shoe allowance can vary wildly, even on Equity contracts, let alone elsewhere. If the allowance of shoes provided isn't sufficient for your needs, that can also eat into a dancer's income. 

 

I have also heard of contracts being offered pre-covid for far less than £350 per week in some smaller companies. Shocking, really. Dancers have to eat! 

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Are they working for more than 45 hours per week for the majority of weeks (excluding breaks, waiting around time etc)? If so I think they can take their employer to court over working time directive. 

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1 hour ago, Peony said:

Are they working for more than 45 hours per week for the majority of weeks (excluding breaks, waiting around time etc)? If so I think they can take their employer to court over working time directive. 

 

On a performance week I would say so - class, rehearsal, performance or class and 2 performances on matinee days.  On a rehearsal week I don't know for sure.  But I suspect if a dancer took an employer to court I suspect they may find themselves a job free zone.

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Sorry 48 hours not 45. Averaged over 17 weeks. It’s not much protection really 6 days of 8 hours excluding breaks and travel, arriving early for performances or waiting around the theatre etc, and any holiday will be averaged In the 17 weeks. Not sure what the answer is, a job market which has way more potential employees than jobs and a very high proportion of young inexperienced employees is ripe for exploitation. To be fair I don’t think some  companies are raking it in at the expense of their employees, I’ve been to a lot of performances with half full houses. Of course they should still be obeying employment law though

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On 06/08/2021 at 11:03, Peanut68 said:

I’d also be interested to know what enables a dancer (or actor) to join Equity? Back in my dark ages days, you had to have an ‘equity recognised’  contract for work at equity rates of pay....this discounted much of the first jobs many took (certainly in acting....think little touring companies & profit share that were all too commonly the work pitched for graduates offering no or minimal pay & pretty poor work conditions & no stability) I imagine that low pay/no pay is still rife in the arts; pitched as chances to get experience/to be seen/something on CV. It always struck me as ludicrous that only if you had enough jobs that  matched equity conditions could you join the union when surely any union should be there to protect the vulnerable, the naïve & the basically abused as let’s face it much of this type of work frankly was/is. I hope minimum wage etc has sorted some of these issues? But I doubt it....

the criteria  to Join equity is on their  website and it;s actually  surprising 'low' compared to days of yore   -   one Equirty  contract ever  or  evidence of 500 gbp worth of paid  work in a sector 

https://www.equity.org.uk/about/how-to-join/

also  the route in via student  membership is fairly  wide  - as it appears  that  those doing level 3  at local providers could  join that way ... 

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