Update (2015)

Here are some notes on updates to the book’s content since publication… they are all reflected in the 2016 edition.

Chapter 3 – Creating A Budget

 ‘Basic Budgeting’ section

–       In April 2014, there was an amendment to National Insurance guidance, such that performers and most stage managers are no longer subject to Class 1 Employer Contributions, and that Holiday Pay for 6-day workers is now 9% (and 5-day workers 10.8%)

–       References to the TMA and TMA rates should be read as referring to the association’s new name, UK Theatre. Their new site address is www.uktheatre.org

–       National minimum wage: although the legislation here has not changed, in the years since the book was published, there have been conflicting cases and experiences relating to the outcome when actors earning less than NMW have challenged their producers legally. Although NMW technically means that most fringe shows are operating outside of the law, there have been no more than a handful of cases in the public domain. The problem for the producer remains that paying below NMW may compromise their ability to manage their cast and crew as professionally as they would like, because the contract under which they are engaged is technically outside of legal pay rates. The recent changes to National Insurance legislation don’t really improve the situation for producers in this area, as performers are still classed as ‘workers’ by virtue of their working conditions, even if HMRC now allows them to be treated as self-employed from both a tax and NI perspective. All of that said, it remains very likely that any producer starting out with putting on small-scale shows will end up hiring people for below NMW, and it is unlikely that they will end up in legal hot water as a result.

Chapter 4 – Getting The Rights

–       Topical musical parodies section: UK law has recently changed to incorporate a legal status for parody for the first time. In theory this means that the musical parodies references in this chapter have a defence in law, but my own experience in attempting to clarify the position via PRS has not been successful: they are understandably not advising producers to go ahead with uncleared usage of material, and the suggestion appears to be that they expect the law to be tested before long and that this will establish precedent as to accepted practice going forward.

Chapter 5 – Raising the Money

–       One major change to the fundraising outlook that came into effect in 2014 was the government’s introduction of Theatre Tax Relief, aimed at granting live shows the same sort of partial cost rebates that have existed for other media such as film for many years. This is a complex area where guidance is still developing, but in a nutshell producers can budget to reclaim between 16% and 20% of the costs of mounting productions, with certain exceptions such as marketing, insurance and running costs. In an attempt to aid the ailing regional arts scene, the amount you can reclaim is higher for touring shows than for those staying in just one or two locations. These costs will be rebated through the corporate tax return of the limited company producing the show, rather than being an upfront cash injection, so the producer still needs to forecast cashflow on the basis of the whole budget. Some producers are choosing to show the tax rebate as a straightforward reduction to costs, whereas others are rebating it directly to investors. The former approach strikes me as the most sustainable but it is early days for this welcome new way of reducing costs. If you are considering using this relief it is worth either attending one of the training seminars offered by SOLT/UK Theatre or being sure that your accountant knows how to handle it for you! Some guidance on the new system can be found at the Nyman Libson Paul Chartered Accountants website: http://www.nlpca.co.uk/category/theatre-tax-relief/

–       Finding Funding section: regional Arts Council names have changed and this is reflected in the online version of the Links section.

–       Raising Investment section: the FSA (Financial Services Authority) is now known as the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).

Chapter 11 – Casting

–       PCR (Production and Casting Report) no longer exists. Its place in the lower echelons of casting sources has been taken by Casting Call Pro, www.castingcallpro.com

Chapter 12 – Going into production

–       The timeline should now include provision for drawing up and reviewing Risk Assessment and other Health and Safety paperwork. This is the responsibility of your production manager but producers need to engage with the process too. Many theatres will now not allow get-ins to commence until such time as satisfactory risk assessment paperwork has been supplied by the production. This has come about gradually in recent years as a number of high-profile accidents have focused attention on the potential for theatres and producers to be landed in legal hot water if they are found to have had insufficient safety measures and training in place to reduce the risk of accidents occurring.

Chapter 14 – Managing the money

–       Payroll is now done via the Real Time Information system that HMRC has introduced in recent years, which submits the actual payslip details for all workers via a live system, allowing HMRC to better keep track of tax payments and dues within the year, rather than just retrospectively after it is complete. This means that some of the forms referenced in this section such as the P35 are no longer required. All good accounting software can help with this process, or if you want a dedicated system just to handle payroll you can use the website The Payroll Site for a small fee – www.thepayrollsite.co.uk. Of course if you are simply paying performers and stage managers who are now outside of the Class 1 National Insurance scope, you will not need payroll software to do this, and will not need to make submissions to HMRC in relation to these payments. The need for a payroll system only applies now if you are paying staff still under the National Insurance deductions system such as administrative support staff or others outside of the performer/stage manager exclusion.

–       The references to Class 1 National Insurance are no longer correct for performers and stage managers – see the information above in Chapter 3 notes.

–       See details in Chapter 3 relating to Holiday Pay. It is also important to bear in mind that updated guidance on the treatment of holiday entitlements suggest that for most fixed-run productions, a ‘payment in lieu of holiday not taken’ should be made after the completion of a contract, rather than the old system under which holiday pay was often remitted weekly with basic salary. This is ultimately good news for any production’s cashflow but should be clarified in the contract wording for people you are hiring, as many agents still expect to see the holiday appearing on the weekly payslip.

–       The UK Borders Agency has been dissolved and the work it used to do in the area of visas is now handled by UK Visas and Immigration.