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Home > News > February 2006 > 17-Feb-2006

Life of uncertainty for performers, says research

According to new research by Skillset, the sector skills council for the audio visual industries, and actors union Equity, nearly half of those working in the UK performance industry earned less than £6,000 from the profession in the last year and most spent more time working outside the performance industry than they did within it.

The research found that 71% of performers had worked outside of the performance industry for 28 weeks or more in the past year. This compares to the 18 weeks on average worked in the performance industry itself. Two in ten (22%) had worked for 40 weeks or more in alternative industries. The majority (48%) of those working in the past year had an income of less than £6,000 from the performance industry with only 6% earning £30,000 or more.

The survey's aim was to create an accurate picture of the size and shape of the performance industry and to identify the skills development and training needs of the workforce.

47% of Equity members who took part in the survey said they had training or development needs at the time of the survey. Those most likely to have training needs worked in dance (66%), corporate production and events (62%) and interactive media and games (61%).

The most common areas of training need were: acting, audition technique/acquiring work, voice/accent coaching, singing, IT skills, languages and business skills.

Six in ten (60%) members had not received any training in the year leading up to the survey.

Women (47%) were more likely than men (32%) to have received training during the previous year. Those who had worked in a dance production in the past year were also particularly likely to have undertaken training (65%).

Dinah Caine, chief executive of Skillset, said: "A broad range of training and development needs were reported in the survey relating to a wide variety of disciplines, some specific to the industry and some more generic in nature. Involvement in training is lower than this, which highlights the importance of work in this area. The results of this survey are absolutely essential in advance of future work to plan and anticipate training needs."

Christine Payne, Equity general secretary and Skillset Board member, said: "The uncertain and changing life of performers that this research reveals means that it is all the more important that they have a source of stability. Equity aims to provide that stability through its contracts, which span the entertainment industry, and through its experienced organisers able to offer advice and support on a huge rage of issues.

"It is also of great importance that Equity members have access to the best possible training opportunities both at the start of and throughout their careers. It is for this reason that Equity is so closely involved with Skillset."

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