It’s spring, which means it’s time for Equity’s Annual Representative Conference, the yearly gathering where issues from across our industry are discussed and debated. Now, as we all know, Brits love their parliamentary procedure – it’s almost as popular a national pastime as gardening or queuing, and I’m sure some of you are thinking it’s just about as interesting. What on earth could be compelling about proposing and seconding, all-those-in-favors, all-those-againsts?

Well, consider this. Motions that were debated and carried at this year’s ARC included calls for action on self-taping; child care; diversity and inclusivity; the choking grip certain agents seem to hold over the casting process; and BBC casting policies. Far from being a dull talking shop, the ARC saw a dynamic action plan being drawn up for the union to work on over the next 12 months to improve our working lives.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, each year every branch and committee of Equity selects two to three representatives to go to the ARC, and also sends in one or two motions about issues they want to see addressed. Over a few days, all the representatives gather together to debate these motions, and any motions that are passed by a two thirds majority are binding – in other words, the union is compelled to act on them. It’s a terrific way for the different areas of the industry to come together and hear about what issues members are facing in particular fields.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s conference of the motions that were passed:

  • Press the Arts Council England to fund opera properly;
  • Investigate & work towards resolving the problem of  West End casting procedures which require performers, particularly in musical theatre,  to learn too much material for auditions;
  • Promote accessible casting spaces for disabled performers;
  • Promote principles of inclusivity and diversity in all contract negotiations;
  • Promote increased gender equality;
  • Improve maintenance of digs lists for touring;
  • Put pressure on programme makers and broadcasters to seek out new talent when casting;
  • Research how BBC limits access to its casting breakdowns;
  • Improve support for parents in touring productions;
  • Look at ways to alter working practices to accommodate the many performers with caring responsibilities;
  • Urgently liaise with casters to address issues arising around self-taping;
  • Look into the issue of drama school audition fees;
  • Look into a code of practice for agents

I’m sure that many of you will have bumped up against one or more of the above issues, and will be glad that the union is moving forward on them. For a full list of motions carried at the 2016 ARC, go to

One last note: Elections are coming up for Equity Council, the union's governing body. Make sure you have a look at the election material when it comes through, read the statements, and above all VOTE! These are the people who guide the way the union is going, so make sure you get your voice heard.