Vertical Markets

Comedians’ Charter

by Mark Rowe

The union for actors and creative performers Equity has launched a Comedians’ Charter at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Developed by Equity’s Comedians’ Network, the four-page Charter is a set of standards for venues and promoters to sign up to, about good working practices and the physical safety of comedians. These include measures to ensure pay transparency, safe working, late night safety, and anti-harassment and discrimination policies.

The launch was at a venue that has already signed up to the Comedian’s Charter; The Stand’s New Town Theatre.

Rob Lugg, Equity’s Organiser for Comedians, says: “Equity members working as comedians put together this charter through our Comedians’ Network, and we’re delighted that The Stand have agreed to become the first UK venue to sign up to it. In the months ahead, we’ll be reaching out to venues and promoters across the country and seeking to work with them to make the Charter the industry standard. Our members will also need the support of audiences to help us achieve this by making sure that they only attend comedy gigs that carry the Comedians’ Charter Mark once it is rolled out.

“However, the Charter is only one part of our strategy to improve the working conditions of live comedians. As the cost-of-living spirals out of control, adding to the enormous pre-existing pressures of accommodation and transport costs at festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe, the time to act is now. We’re calling on every working comedian in the country who isn’t already a member to join Equity – and just as importantly, we need many more of our members to get active in their trade union through our Comedians’ Network, and through our campaigns in the months ahead to roll out the Comedians’ Charter across the UK.

“By coming together and acting collectively through their union, comedians have the chance to push for real change and for a fairer and more sustainable industry.”

Late nights

Safety of workers late at night was featured in the May print edition of Professional Security magazine – in particular that concerns are greatest in the ‘last mile’, the part of a worker’s commute nearest their home. The Charter says: “Acts should be provided with clear information about public transport options home after the gig including cost, frequency and route numbers alongside clear directions on how to walk through well-lit/well-populated streets to the bus stop/tube/train station.”

Personal safety of comedians got worldwide attention after the 94th Academy Awards in March when Hollywood actor Will Smith slapped the comedian Chris Rock on stage. Will Smith apologised.

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