Equity (British trade union)

Equity, formerly officially titled the British Actors' Equity Association (although Equity was always its common name), is the trade union for theatre directors, fight directors, choreographers, set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, actors, stage managers, models and performers in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1929 by a group of West End performers and, in 1967, it incorporated the Variety Artistes' Federation.

Founded1930 (1930)
Members38,197 (2013) 43,555 (2017)[1]
AffiliationTUC, ICTU, STUC, FEU, FIA
Key people
Office locationGuild House, Upper St Martins Lane, London
CountryUnited Kingdom

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.[2][3][4]

Equity requires its members to have unique professional names.[5]


It was formed in 1930 by a group of West End performers. It was formed at the home of May Whitty and Ben Webster.[6]

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.[7]

In 1976, Equity introduced a policy of refusing to sell programmes to the South African Broadcasting Corporation, an action that led to a virtual ban of British television in apartheid South Africa.

General secretaries


See also


  1. Equity (Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation): annual returns. UK Certification Officer.
  2. Barnett, Laura (15 September 2010). "Equity boss Malcolm Sinclair answers your questions". The Guardian. London. Theatre Blog. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  3. "Equity in the 21st Century". Nerve (2). Summer 2003. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  4. "More union trouble for Hurley". BBC News. 20 October 2000. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  5. "Equity – Equity Name". Equity. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  6. "Webster, Benjamin (1864–1947), actor | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-36806#odnb-9780198614128-e-36806-headword-2. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. "How can I join?". Equity. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  8. "Equity history" (PDF). Equity. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  9. "Branch AGM – West of England Variety Branch". Events during March 2013. Equity. 30 March 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  10. Smith, Alistair (22 July 2008). "Hamilton elected Equity president". The Stage. London. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  11. Hemley, Matthew (15 July 2010). "Malcolm Sinclair becomes Equity president". The Stage. London. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  12. "Malcolm Sinclair re-elected President". Equity. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  13. "Council: Equity Council 2012 – 2014". Equity. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  14. "Actor Maureen Beattie becomes second female president in Equity's history | News | The Stage". The Stage. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  15. "Equity – Equity announces first female President since 1946". www.equity.org.uk. Retrieved 7 August 2018.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.