Phoenix Dance Theatre Leeds’ decision to lay off its creative team has been branded “appalling” by Equity’s North East official Dominic Bascombe.
The theatre is planning a ‘creative pause’ from June until January instead of proceeding with previously planned work, meaning dancers will no longer go into rehearsals for at least three planned performances.
Six dancers on fixed-term contracts have been told their contracts will end tomorrow (20 May) and two dancers on permanent staff contracts will be laid off from July 1.
Phoenix intends to pay the pair £300 guaranteed pay every three months while they are laid off, during which time they are expected to be available to the theatre if required.
Equity is accompanying dancers to consultation meetings, arguing there is no genuine shortage of work while the company remains in benefit of funding from Arts Council England (ACE) and other funders. Since 2018, the theatre has received in excess of £2m as an ACE National Portfolio Organisation.
“Phoenix management needs to explain what has happened to the public money they received that would normally go towards paying the dancers and creative team,” Bascombe said.
“And they need to explain why they are not treating the dancers and creative team - who have helped build the reputation that Phoenix has enjoyed over the past 40 years - with the respect they deserve.”