UPDATED 30 July 2010
This Old Vic ad has been removed from the Arts Council ‘Artsjobs’ Website:
The above advert placed in ArtsJobs (the Arts Council’s website) seems to have been trawling for 100+ technicians and professional actors for what should be a community project. If they are just looking for non professionals then the advert should explicitly stated that.
HOWEVER the notice is still on the OLD VIC website:
The versions on the OLD VIC NEW VOICES WEBSITE are still not clearly compliant with MWR. The jobs advertised do not obviously fit the volunteer or voluntary worker exemptions, though they clearly fit the criteria to be classed as NMW eligible ‘workers’ in employment law:
Workers are people who work under a contract of employment or a contract personally to perform work or provide services to another party to the contract (but not the genuinely self employed). Paid staff in the charity sector are eligible for National Minimum Wage as in the public and private sectors. It is not possible for any organisation to contract out of the statutory minimum wage obligations. follow this link for more info
If the Old Vic wishes to engage these workers as Voluntary Workers: The Old Vic should make the applicants aware of this in the application stage. It would be best practice to to make it perfectly clear that no payment (aside from limited receipted expenses for food and transport) or payment in kind could be offered to the participants. Prohibited payment in kind includes complimentary tickets, clothing, books, posters, programmes, photographs, recordings of the performance. Anything of professional interest or has a monetary value. The Old Vic should however be reimbursing (on a receipt basis) reasonable food and travel expenses.
The Old Vic is not an ACE funded organisation, it survives on the donations of individuals and, corporate sponsors, and foundations and trusts (see below). So the well meaning donations by businesses and individuals (and the money contributed by charitable organisations) is likely being used unlawfully.
Regardless of whether the the productions are unlawfull, professional actors and technicians are apparently being called on to be broadly exploited. This exploitation allows the OLD Vic to create productions that compete with companies that pay actors fair wages. This sort of practice promotes elitism in the arts and undermines the labour of professional actors. It is difficult to imagine a situation in which these workers will be working directly in aid of the Old Vic’s Charitable objectives. On top of that our tax money was used to pay for the advertising on the Arts Council’s Artsjobs website which has since suspended the advertising of unpaid work entirely.
Equity has been informed that this production is casting. Equity members cast in the production who feel they should be paid at lease NMW will likely be supported by Equity in a claim for wages.
The risks they are taking: The Old Vic is being reported to the HMRC. If any of the performers or technicians claim wages The Old Vic may receive a payment order for unpaid wages, expenses and other costs. They may be fined up to £5000. If during the investigation they fail to cooperate, they may face criminal charges.
The Old Vic is also breaking their covenant to the community of professional actors and theatre technicians and this will not soon be forgotten.
Readers comments, and those from the Arts Council, BECTU, EQUITY, and the OLD VIC are welcome below.
If you have time on your hands, please write to the project’s sponsors:
The OVNV Club has also received generous contributions from The Marina Kleinwort Charitable Trust, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Mackintosh Foundation, The Idlewild Trust, Bernice Chitnis and other individual supporters of The Old Vic Club.
These are the trustees
MR ALAN BANES
ROBERT ANTHONY BOURNE
JOYCE ANITA HYTNER
MR NICHOLAS GEORGE COOPER