EQUITY MOTION PRESENTED AT TUC SEPTEMBER 2015. It was passed unanimously and seconded by Rick Finlay of the Musicians' Union Childcare in the creative industries.
In the creative industries, as with many other sectors where unpredictable working patterns, last minute recruitment practices, low earnings, a culture of presenteeism and regular travel are the norm, parents are reporting significant difficulties accessing affordable, flexible childcare.
The lack of information and clarity regarding rules and entitlements to tax free childcare, Universal Credit, child tax credits and the Government's commitment to providing 30 hours of free childcare for 'working parents', along with the lack of support during and post pregnancy particularly for those seeking to return to work mean that many parents - particularly female and lone parents in the creative industries - are at risk of dropping out of the workforce.
Congress reaffirms its commitment to campaign for childcare support which will benefit all parents, including freelance and self employed workers and those who work shifts and unsociable hours.
Congress further resolves to continue to campaign for comprehensive policy measures geared towards the introduction of universal free childcare. This campaign will include provisions which seek to address the urgent needs of workers in the creative and freelance sectors.
Adam Burns' Speech:
President, Congress, Adam Burns, Equity and a proud first time speaker at Congress.
1) The average wage in the creative industries is £16,500. The average cost of a full time nursery place is £15,000.
2) The national average for self-employment is 14%. In our industries the figure is 54%. No maternity or paternity pay.
Guardian Theatre Critic Lyn Gardner, noticing calls from Equity wrote recently, "Parents in the Arts need to stage a childcare revolution."
Congress, the entrenched discrimination of UK arts engagers must end!
The current situation is unacceptable! The virtual nonexistence of affordable, flexible childcare, the appalling attitudes towards parents (especially mothers) from most producers, disinterested Arts ministers & the resultant haemorrhaging of talent from our workforce is shameful.
I never imagined growing up in a small Derbyshire village, that having turned 43 yesterday, I'd have been a professional Stage Manager for over 20 years. I've worked hard, I love my job & have achieved many things.
Being Liam's dad is the most important.
Liam turned 8 on Sunday.5 months after Liam's birth my wife, a teacher in an East London primary, returned to work. I became Liam's primary carer for 8 months and still am.
Returning to work my career became defined by the lack of childcare. Spending £1100 a month funding a full time nursery place drove us into debt. Affordable, flexible childcare is a brick wall to creative industry workers. Our job is creating fantasy. Childcare should not be one. Discrimination towards parents by engagers is the norm, especially towards mothers who are effectively invisible to them. This is ripping the heart from Theatre, TV and Film.
Congress, Childcare for creative industry freelancers isn't flexible or to be blunt: available. Government attacks on welfare intensify driving those without private income from the arts. If unchecked, we'll end up with one depressing outcome.
Theatres & screens filled with well-off 20 to 30 year olds performing stories about themselves: A never ending Downton Abbey on loop. Tokenism. The Importance of Being Earnest as real life. No thanks!!
I work with amazing companies like Generation Arts helping those without perceivable opportunity into drama school. That is real life.
We've a moral obligation to recruit more working class actors, designers and Stage Managers. WE MUST have diversity.
Congress, our parents are hurting out there.
Please listen to some experiences from Actors, Stage Managers and creatives?
Here are just a few REAL experiences from working professionals.
1) "I had no idea how hard it would be to manage my career with a child. From the outset you feel discriminated against. Nobody will hire you if you're pregnant so you keep it secret as long as you can."
HERE'S ANOTHER ONE
2) "If people hear that you have a kid and can't do something once, you fear they'll never ask again." AND
3) "It was suddenly too late to have children."
Parents demand affordable, flexible childcare. In Theatre, TV, Dance and Film we work unsociable hours.
The government promised improvements to childcare provision. Prime Minister, simple increases in entitlements don't tackle the blatant discrimination we as parents face.
Firstly Employers commit to real childcare for freelance and self-employed workers. Unions prioritise universal free childcare.
Second Equity showcase the fantastic collective model presented by Prams in the Hall, with parents central to their creativity. This collective is an amazing reaction from frustrated parents, but not the long term solution.
Third Equity's supporting new campaign group Parents in Performing Arts launching in October, encompassing a manifesto for change and utilising independent research on parental needs. Tickets went in hours.
Equity calls on the TUC to support PIPA. May I take your support to that launch?
Fourth We call on ALL employer bodies in our industries to pledge public support for Parents in Performing Arts.
We can move forward together. But it starts today!
Congress, Equity asks you to affirm your proud commitment to childcare provision and to campaign with us for universal free childcare that includes ALL freelance and self-employed workers.
Parents in the arts want one thing; TO WORK and provide for the children we love.
To conclude, things must change.
The method of ensuring change is here in Brighton. It's us. The trade union movement. Together.
Together we'll stop the Arts becoming a playground for the wealthy.
Together we'll end the Victorian attitude of producers to mothers.
Together we'll end discrimination against desperate parents working in the creative industries.
Together, we'll end the need for self-employed parents to choose between family and work. AND
Together we'll deliver the childcare revolution that parents in the creative industries are screaming out for.
Read more in The Stage: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2015/equity-renews-call-free-childcare-performing-arts/