Open Letter From ALD to Equity

Upon reading Equity’s letter in response to the recent Stage Directors UK article about the low pay for their members (The Stage - Oct 1st p8), the Association of Lighting Designers notes Equity’s claim that they are “the only organisation able to work with managers to improve stage directors’ and designers’ pay and conditions of work”.  Equity also invite their directors and designer Members to contact them about rates of pay.


However, we do wonder why they have not been able to make any discernible increase in those minimum fees specifically set for Lighting Designers over the last decade despite the constant presence of at least one, and often more, lighting designers on the committee responsible for discussing the issues affecting such members.


In April 2007 Equity, BECTU and the ALD launched a campaign to achieve parity with the Set and Costume Designers, in that the minimum fees for Lighting Designers working in Subsidised Repertory Theatres will be no less than 50% of the combined minimum fee paid to the Designer when they undertake both set and costume designs.


We therefore note that with the circulation of Equity’s 2015-18 agreement with UK Theatre, that the lighting design minimums still fall short of this 50% figure.  In some cases by nearly £500 for 2017/18.  If these minimums are offered by managements, our members are worse off in real terms.  Equity’s negotiators appear to not even be able to meet the demands of the union’s own campaigns.


We have written to the recently formed Directors and Designers Equity Committee stating that we are constantly disappointed by Equity’s efforts on behalf of lighting designers and that publishing such minimum fees as in the recent agreement does nothing to help designers to negotiate decent fees, and encourages some managements to use these ‘minimums’ to keep fees down below the level that we consider appropriate.


In 2015, there is very little difference in the demands on a lighting designer between a main house show and that of a studio show.  Rehearsals still need to be watched, meetings attended, plans drawn, a production period required to light the show and previews to re-work staging and refine the look of the show.  Is £738 proper recompense for that time spent working on a show?


In our opinion, Equity has continually ignored the representations of our members who have been integral contributors to a wide range of Union committees over the last 15 years. Equity has taken minimal notice of the specific working conditions of lighting designers in the 21st Century and appears to be advocating a situation where their lighting design members should expect to be offered payment that, when broken down to an hourly rate across the project, would be significantly below the pay of the technical staff that they are working with in order to realise their designs.


We call on OUR union to negotiate a minimum fee structure that is actually realistic and compatible with our profession and artistic contribution to the projects we work on.


Infographic of the Disparity of Pay


Published Equity Minimum Design Fees for TMA / UK Theatre Agreements:


2007                   Set & Costume       Lighting     50% S&C Fee       Difference

MRSL 1                         £3,238.00              £1,209.00           £1,619.00                -£410

Studio/Workshop          £1,377.00                  £579                  £688.50                 -£110

MRSL 2/3                     £2,372.00                  £660                £1,186.00               -£526

Studio/Workshop          £1,143.00                  £527                 £571.50                   -£45


2015/16              Set & Costume       Lighting     50% S&C Fee       Difference

MRSL 1                        £3,624.00               £1,353.00            £1,812.00                -£459

Studio / Workshop        £1,541.00                £648.00                £770.50                 -£123

MRSL 2 / 3                   £2,655.00                 £738.00             £1,327.50               -£590

Studio / Workshop         £1,279.00               £589.00                £639.50                  -£51


Fee Increases between 2007 & 2018

                           Set & Costume          Lighting           50% S&C           Difference

MRSL 1                       + £532.00                   + £199.00             + £266.00                   -£67.00

Studio / Workshop       + £226.00                  + £95.00               + £113.00                   -£18.00

MRSL 2 / 3                  + 390.00                    + £108.00              + £195.00                   -£87.00

Studio / Workshop       + £188.00                  + £86.00                + £94.00                     -£8.00



Equity Statement - the Stage 1st October 2015

"Equity notes with interest the recent article in the Stage (september 24, p1) about director's fees and conditions of work.

As the trade union representing directors and designers, Equity is committed to improving stage directors' and designers' pay and conditions of work.  Equity believes that theatre directors' rates of pay have been too low for too long.  It therefore welcomes Stage Directors UK's recent fees survey and its continuing contribution to the campaign to increase directors fees.

Equity's newly elected directors and designers committee is embarking on a wide consultation with stage directors and designers.  As a part of that process, Equity calls on SDUK to share their proposals and work with us to ensure an effective and co-ordinated response to long suffering stage directors and designers.

Directors and designers are also invited to conatct Equity at if they have any concerns about their pay and conditions of work.  If they have any comments about issues affecting the work of directors and designers, they can get in touch with committee member Robert Shaw."



The original story about Stage Directors UK fees increase can be read here (you may need to register for online access)