The first-ever minimum terms collective agreement for playwrights was negotiated between the Writers' Guild and the Theatre Writers' Union and the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court (collectively, the TNC), and signed in 1979.
In 2004, both the Guild and the theatres felt that a complete revision of the agreement was necessary. The Guild met with the PMA to draw up our bid in June of that year and negotiations with the three theatres began in September 2005.
The Guild negotiators (David Edgar, Nick Dear, Paul Sirett and Olwen Wymark) were advised by a PMA delegation (Alan Brodie, Diana Franklin and Mel Kenyon). Negotiations were concluded successfully on 26 March this year and the agreement was signed on behalf of the Writers' Guild by David Edgar, our new President, at the Guild's AGM on 1 June 2007.
The headline gain is an increase in the up-front fee for writers (the combined commission, delivery and acquisition fees) from £8,467 to £10,000, in all RSC, NT and RC spaces except for the Theatre Upstairs. The £10,000 play achieves a long-lasting ambition for playwrights, and will serve as a benchmark in negotiations with other companies.
In addition, we have removed loopholes in the rehearsal payment system, ensuring that playwrights are paid for all the days they attend rehearsals (and readings and workshops outside the rehearsal period), for conducting other production related business (like interviews and programme compilation), and for those days on which it is mutually agreed they should not attend.
We also made sure that the playwrights' right to casting approval was safeguarded in the new agreement.
For the first time, we have guaranteed writers' hotel and accommodation expenses (within the terms of the theatres' expenses policies), both during rehearsals and during workshops, auditions and research.
Concerned about the implications of granting theatres automatic rights to include extracts on their websites, we insisted that website rights be granted under a separately-signed agreement for a limited period.
We have reduced the option periods that theatres may purchase for the United States and the English Speaking World from eight months to six, and given playwrights greater influence over third party productions licensed by the TNC companies.
In addition, many clauses were revised to reflect best current practice and to accommodate changes in the production environment over the years.
Inevitably, we made some concessions. However, we are convinced that the resulting agreement and model contract improves the original in form and content, and will improve the pay and conditions of all playwrights working for the TNC theatres.
You can download the Full Agreement from the Guild's Rates and Agreements page.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
From the WGGB website: