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Equity (trade union)

Founded 1930 (1930)
Members 38,197 (2013)[1]
Affiliation TUC, ICTU, STUC, FIA
Key people
Office location London, United Kingdom
Country United Kingdom
The Equity building, London.

Equity (formerly known as the British Actors' Equity Association) is the trade union for actors, stage managers and models in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1930 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 unions in the UK. This was criticised in 1981 by the European Court of Human Rights[2] and made illegal in 1988, with the result that it is no longer a requirement that an entertainment professional be a member of Equity.[3][4][5]

Equity requires its members to have unique professional names.[6]


  • History 1
  • General secretaries 2
  • Presidents 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Like many other British trade unions, Equity operated a closed shop policy—it was not possible for someone to join unless they had had sufficient paid work, and most jobs were reserved for Equity card holders. To allow new members to join, there were 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.

In 1976, Equity introduced a policy of refusing to sell programmes to the South African Broadcasting Corporation, an action that led to a virtual blackout of British television in apartheid South Africa.

As a result of reforms of trade unions in the 1980s 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. However, to join, evidence must be provided of sufficient paid professional work.[7]

General secretaries


See also


  1. ^ Equity (Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation): annual returns. UK Certification Officer.
  2. ^
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  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v
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  10. ^ a b
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Further reading

External links

  • Official website
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