|Members||38,197 (2013) 43,555 (2017)|
|Affiliation||TUC, ICTU, STUC, FEU, FIA|
|Office location||Guild House, Upper St Martins Lane, London|
Equity, formerly officially titled the British Actors' Equity Association (although Equity was always its common name), is the trade union for theatre directors, fight directors, choreographers, set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, actors, stage managers, singers, models, performers, and other creative workers in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1929 by a group of West End performers and, in 1967, it incorporated the Variety Artistes' Federation.
Equity was one of the last of the closed shop trade unions in the UK. This was criticised in 1981 and made illegal in 1988, with the result that it is no longer a requirement that an entertainment professional be a member of Equity.
Like many other British trade unions, Equity operated a closed shop policy—it was not possible for someone to join unless they had sufficient paid work, and most jobs were reserved for Equity card holders. To allow new members to join, there was a limited number of non-card holding jobs on regional productions. Whilst working on these productions, actors held a provisional membership card, and, on completing the requisite number of weeks, could apply for full membership, and thereafter work in the West End, or on film and television.
As a result of reforms of trade unions by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, and the introduction of European legislation, closed shop unions became illegal in the UK and Equity discontinued this policy in the 1980s. However, to join, evidence must be provided of sufficient paid professional work.
The Clarence Derwent Awards are theatre awards given annually by the Actors' Equity Association on Broadway in the United States and by Equity, the performers' union, in the West End in the United Kingdom. Clarence Derwent Awards