Chloe Dallimore has raised concerns about the growing number of overseas imports taking up leading roles in Australian theatre.
To my fellow performers in Australia.
I’m writing in my capacity as President of Equity Australia.
Thank you for your passion and firmly founded concern about the recent sea of overseas imports in most of the big productions cast for late-2016 and 2017. I was holding off writing this post until some further announcements, however, I can see the ire is strong in many of you, so it is appropriate to bring you up to date.
Here’s a quick rundown of where we’re at….
LPA (Live Performance Australia which is the Producers Association) tore up the Imported Artists Agreement 4 years ago, without prior notice, and have refused to have any discussion about the Agreement since. Repeated efforts have been made to negotiate a new Imported Artists Agreement, and LPA have still refused to talk. The issue was brought up again with them as recently as February. Unfortunately many members of our Union think that the Imported Artists Agreement is about Australians working in the U.S. and UK, which it is NOT. It was an agreement which meant producers had to consult with Equity and if it was deemed that a diligent and thorough Australian casting process had been undertaken, Equity had to approve or reject the suggested overseas import. If Equity rejected the import application, producers could go further and apply to the government for the rejection to be overturned. If an import was approved, there were very strict guidelines around this import. For example, only 1 principal cast member could be imported per production. This is a very important point to absorb in the current climate of multiple principal import castings.
So what is the Union currently doing?…
At the moment I am a lone wolf in the offices of the producers, being told for up to 2 hours how “it really surprised us how hard it was to cast this show”. Like you guys, I’m appalled. I sit there and take notes and ask uncomfortable questions, but in the end, the Union has absolutely no leg to stand on because we have no Imported Artists Agreement.
And why am I being asked to meet with the producers?
Because they are good people, and they are still consulting with us, but no matter what I am told in these meetings, both they and I know that the Union cannot legally stop the imports.
So what do we do from here?
Can I count on you guys to help me in the coming months to get some change on this front?
The Union can only get change on this front if we rally together. It’s been 4 years of unregulated imports. And as many have said, it feels as if we are regressing and returning to the JC Williamson days when all the Principals were imports and the Ensemble and understudies were Australians. How on Earth will our Australian live theatre stars be made at this rate? One show can make a career and our talented Aussies are being robbed of that opportunity. We must instigate change, but we can only do it together as an industry. Your Union needs your voice to create change.
– Chloe Dallimore