No longer as truthful as should be deserved, some names, places and events deliberately vague to protect identities that aren't mine

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The money crisis: Part 3 (Bad Math)

I posted recently about my extreme level of being poor.  Or rather, my extreme lack of income to do anything other than put a roof over my head with.  We've been holding auditions recently for the new January show and it came up in conversation with the boyfriend last night as to what salary they earn.  Standard equity rates.  The bf said, "I assume even less than you", seeing as how being a low grade performer is not a hugely well paid job, and me, being management staff in a permanent position and all, you would think would be on a decent wage, comparatively speaking of course.

But of course you'd be wrong.  Equity rates are currently about £350-450 per week, depending on what you're doing, and this allows the company contracting you up to 8 performances in a week, plus rehearsals..  We generally do 5, but this allows us some breathing room for special events and private lunches and other such things.  My gross salary doesn't even break 300 per week, and by the time tax is taken into account, it's barely over 200.  The actors are getting twice my salary, for turning up half the time I do.  Obviously I appreciate there's more that goes into acting, singing, juggling etc, than just turning up and doing the job.  There's time spent learning lines, practicising songs, recognition of the time and investment others have spent refining their skills, a coverage of the necessary insurance premiums incurred by stage fighters etc.  You're paying for recognition of the level of their skill, not just the skill itself.  But that puts my recognised skill level pretty fucking low based on the quality of a lot of the auditionees we've had.  And I do things in my own time, I look to further myself, my skillset, I spend time awake at home creating a new lighting plot instead of sleeping.

I'm not entitled to equity rates.  I'm not on an equity contract, I'm not equity registered or affiliated, and I took my job at the offered rate of £7ph.  I effectively operate as the venue's technical manager, due to it being a small scale venue as far as the world of theatrical entertainment goes.  I'm expected to be designer, manager, operator and builder all in one.  And I am not a Mountview Stage Management graduate with a nice accreddited degree.  That's kind of fine.  That goes with the job, it goes with the industry, it goes with what I signed up to do.

But I really wish my salary reflected even just a little bit of that.  As an Equity Stage Manager I would be entitled to the same rate as our actors.  If you wanted to take into account the fact I have to do frequent and regular designs for lights, sound, set, etc.  Then freelance fees for a lighting design, even small scale, are considerable.  I both stage manage and I don't.  Lisa spends more time on the floor, doing what would count as stage management in this venue, but I will be taking over a lot of the backstage authority come January.  A stage manager gets paid a premium per performance.  Generally, a lot of techs aren't paid equity rates, it's not a luxury we have.  Entertainment, like retail, architecture, and city banking is one of those industries where it doesn't matter how many hours you're putting in, if you bitch about it there's a queue of other people waiting to do your job and not bitch.  But generally you're paid something such that you don't start bitching it in the first place.  Especially when you're a one man tech show.  Unless you're at Edinburgh of course, but that's 
an isolated microcosm in itself with its own laws of physics, so we can exclude it from our studies.

If you discount the rather wide remit of my role, if you discount the management aspect of it, the design aspect.  If you just count what my new starter wage form precisely says, I am a technician. So fine, count me as a theatre technician.  If you look at average theatre technician salaries. I come very firmly in the bottom region of what could be expected.  On a regional breakdown, I get paid about £10k less than expected for a theatre technician.  If I could get the extra £10k, I wouldn't even begin to mention the fact I design and manage on top of that.

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