Trade union Equity launches charter to improve comedians’ working lives

The performing arts and entertainment trade union has launched the Comedians’ Charter at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The performing arts and entertainment trade union has launched the Comedians’ Charter at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Performing arts and entertainment trade union Equity has launched a Comedian’s Charter in an effort to ensure good working practices and the safety of comedians.

Developed by the union’s Comedians’ Network, the charter was launched at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on Monday at The Stand comedy club’s New Town Theatre.

Edinburgh’s New Town Theatre is the first venue to sign up to the newly introduced charter.

The measures included in the Comedians’ charter “will ensure pay transparency, a safe working environment, late night safety, and anti-harassment and discrimination policies”, according to Equity.

Speaking about the charter, Equity’s organiser for comedians Rob Lugg said: “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.

The new Comedians’ Charter has been launched at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

“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.”

Points on the charter include “the condemnation of any performance conducted at the artist’s expense on behalf of someone else,” and “anti-harassment and discrimination policies should be clearly visible in venues, made available to acts when they are booked for a gig, and visible online when audience members purchase tickets”.

The charter also details points relating to the facilities on offer at venues’ where comedians will be performing and information on travel and available transport methods for performing acts.

Equity is made up of more than 47,000 performers and creative workers – including comedians, actors, singers, dancers, designers and directors.

The union has said it will be producing a pack for venues and promoters with comprehensive guidance on adopting the charter and intends to work with venues and promoters to implement the charter.