Designers are fighting to win improved pay and working conditions, as part of a new deal being sought by unions Equity and BECTU.
The unions are calling for a tighter definition of what is covered by a designer’s initial fee, arguing that designers often have to absorb “significant additional overheads”.
The claim focuses on modernising and improving pre-existing arrangements between the unions and UK Theatre and SOLT.
It follows 12 months during which BECTU has been working with Equity, the Society of London Theatre and the Association of Lighting Designers to address issues concerning designers.
One of the main proposed changes is a new fee structure for freelance designers which, in addition to securing the rights to the design concept, will also cover the designer’s attendance at all pre-production meetings, rehearsals, previews, press nights and other public performances as requested by the management.
This means employers will need to be clearer about what is covered in the initial fee and include script readings, concept meetings, model making, working drawings and research within it.
It will also see a 2% increase on wages and all other financial elements – such as expenses – annually for the next four years.
BECTU and Equity are additionally calling for improved travel and subsistence expenses for designers.
The claim also covers a number of non-financial areas including inserting a new dignity at work clause.
Helen Ryan, BECTU arts and entertainment assistant national secretary, said: “These claims are based on detailed discussions with theatre designers and their need to be heard on a number of issues.
“By working with partners across the theatre industry we hope to reach a settlement that is beneficial for designers who play such a crucial role in any production.”
SOLT and UK Theatre have been contacted for comment.