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10 Things You Didn’t Know About The SBTD

08 July 2020

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The SBTD

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1. SBTD were part of the renegotiations with SOLT and UK Theatre

In July 2017 SBTD and the ALD were invited to become directly involved in the re-negotiation of the collective agreements with UK Theatre and SOLT by Equity and Bectu. Fiona Watt (Chair SBTD) and Ian Saunders (Executive Director, the ALD) have been present at these meetings from the outset and latterly been joined by Max Jones and Robbie Butler as representatives on Equity’s Directors & Designers Committee. These negotiations have been long, tough and meticulous. They have taken three years to date to complete and have included a huge amount of research and evidence gathering by SBTD. These agreements affect designers who are working for any of the SOLT or UK Theatre members. Many significant gains have been made for designers and we will be continuing to work very hard to protect these gains during the temporary re-alignment of agreements we are being pushed towards as a result of COVID.

The ITC negotiation is next and will see the SBTD again partnering with Equity and the ALD to restructure the agreement and contract to truly reflect necessary fees, expenses and safety requirements of designing shows.

2. You contributed directly to the evidence we made with the agreement

Data derived from a survey completed by SBTD members online and at our Value of Design event at the National Theatre in April 2018 went directly into the evidence used to back the claim. The groundswell of support from SBTD members for the Value of Design campaign added momentum to this.

3. Your Professional and Graduate membership includes Public Liability Insurance Cover

This insurance could cost as much, if not more, than the price of SBTD membership if purchased separately. It could of course be crucial if you find yourself in a difficult spot and increasingly employers, particularly those running projects beyond theatre buildings and in a wider community context, require you to evidence that you are covered by this insurance.

4. Membership of SBTD means you automatically are part of OISTAT

OISTAT, which stands for “Organisation Internationale des Scénographes, Techniciens et Architectes de Théâtre” in French, and “International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians” in English, is a worldwide organization for scenographers, theatre architects, theatre educators and theatre technicians.

OISTAT generates, promotes and maintains a global network of specialist practitioners, educators and researchers who shape, challenge and imagine elements, events and environments for the live performing arts.  A number of our committee members have significant roles within this organisation.

5. In 2019 we founded seven Regional Hearts as part of our Staging Places programme

We now have design champions in place in the Leeds, Cardiff, Bristol, Dundee, London, the East Midlands and Essex. With your help we’d like to make more!

In each place we have partnered with an HE institution and a venue to build dialogue and professional development opportunities.

6. The SBTD supports all designers

SBTD continuously champions best practice by advising theatre companies and through reacting swiftly and supportively to poorly constructed job adverts and working conditions. You can contact us if you are concerned about a job description or conditions.

7. The Value of Design at the National Theatre was the first time in 40 years that designers and the Unions had come together in this way

The Value of Design took place at the National Theatre on 17th April 2018, and launched a joint campaign between the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD), BECTU, EQUITY and the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD) to improve terms and conditions for designers in relation to the UK Theatre and SOLT Collective Agreements.

Over 70 professional designers (set, costume, lighting, sound and video) attended representing the full range of career stages and genres of performance design. The knowledge and expertise these conversations represent is from designers who had designed over 350 shows for companies and organisations who list themselves as members of UK Theatre, 145 of which were in MRSL Subsidised Theatres. Breakout sessions were facilitated by members of SBTD and ALD. Designers from throughout the country were represented at the meeting.

8. We are in constant conversation with the right people

SBTD maintains a strong working relationship with Arts Council England, the Creative Industries Federation and the trade unions to ensure that the value of designers and design is made more visible and is more broadly understood across the whole of the cultural sector.

9. SBTD is run by volunteers

The committee is currently made up of established, emerging & early year designers and H.E. design educators. Money generated by membership covers a small amount of an administrator’s time, the core costs of the website and our events programme. We have calculated that the average amount of time that each committee member has donated per year is 35 hours.

10. In 2020 we plan to:

Gather further data to support the next stage of negotiations with Equity, SOLT and UK Theatre.

Continue to campaign for better rights and conditions for designers at every stage of their career, both behind the scenes (and at the relevant tables) and publicly with our Value of Design events.

Offer events and activities alongside the Staging Places exhibition when it tours to the National Centre for Craft and Design in the autumn.

Create even more resources for members, available to download from the website.

Join Us!

Membership is £78 per year for Professional, £48 for a New Professional (including Public Liability Cover and your presence in the Designers Gallery ) or £25 for Students. If you are about to graduate, you can join for £25 as a student which means that you won’t need to pay a New Professional membership rate until this time next year. That rate will in turn be valid for another 2 years, so 2023 before you need to pay the Professional subscription.


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