Pay and conditions in the main British ballet companies which enjoy Arts Council funding are subject to a detailed agreement with the artists’ trade union, Equity.
The companies party to this agreement are:
- Contracts in all these companies are permanent…
- …but include a probationary period of 6-12 months.
- Average starting salary for first year corps is £23,813 per year (figure valid for April 2016 – €30,000 approx – exchange rates vary; for up-to-date rates use the Currency Converter in Helpful Links)
- That is subject to deduction of income tax (20% of taxable income) + National Insurance
- All the above companies offer their own dance-specific medical care, over and above that provided by the NHS
- The contract includes paid holiday
- All companies contribute to a Dancers Pension Scheme, which covers all the people employed for more than 13 weeks. This is separate from State Pension and from Equity’s own Pension Scheme
- Termination of contracts can only be done through a tightly regulated procedure agreed with Equity and subject to Employment law.
- All these companies also contribute to Dancers Career Development (see Useful Links), which exists to help dancers make the transition to new professions.
Smaller companies are not covered by any of these agreements. Equity is represented in some, but not all companies, and advises that pay is generally much lower and working conditions tenuous in non-union companies.
Even if you are not a paid-up member of Equity you are covered by the provisions of the collective agreement between the company and the union. Regional union reps ensure implementation of those agreements.
You may want to consider joining Equity (contact in Helpful Links). Although the theatre is no longer a closed shop, membership of the relevant union provides individual protection as well as a number of useful services (such as legal representation) and benefits.