Watch: Equity FEST campaign to stop the cuts and save the arts as Derry's Waterside Theatre to close

Equity actors’ union has called for an immediate halt to funding cuts and and vowed to work to save the arts amid fears for the sector’s future.
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Equity is a union set up by actors for actors and campaigns to create a better working environment for all actors. This includes pay and rights in the workplace. They also tackle harassment and low wages but also make getting into acting easier with making auditions more accessible.

Currently their campaign is to resist the cuts which focus on Northern Ireland. On their page dedicated to this campaign they state: “The cuts to Arts Council Northern Ireland funding has put the jobs of hundreds of creative workers at risk.

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“The over 40% cut to Arts Council Northern Ireland funding over the past 10 years, including 5% imposed by the unelected Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities last year, has impacted artists, producers and communities.”

Equity FEST 2024: Mary Ellen O'Hara.Equity FEST 2024: Mary Ellen O'Hara.
Equity FEST 2024: Mary Ellen O'Hara.

The campaign is timely following the Waterside Theatre’s announcement of its closure in June.

Its Chief Executive Officer Iain Barr stated: “It is my very sad duty to inform you that Waterside Theatre and Arts Centre will close on June 30, 2024. This decision was reached in light of funding issues, after careful consideration by the board and management of the organisation.”

The Journal attended Equity FEST which you can watch above.

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At the meeting there was a feeling of great support for all people of the industry, hosting their own stands to talk about how they are bettering the arts industry.

Equity FEST 2024.Equity FEST 2024.
Equity FEST 2024.

For example Derry’s In Your Space Circus (IYSC) was there. IYSC was the first ever circus and theatre company to sign an agreement with equity. As a charity they help the most disadvantaged children and young people through their colourful and lively circus and street theatre.

Equity states: “The evidence is clear that investing in the arts boosts the economy, supports mental health, physical health, social wellbeing, and community cohesion. And in a cost of living crisis, this is a deep cut. We need more investment not less.”

If you wish to support the arts and equity you can find them here.

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