Letter: Acting equitably

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Sir: I write as a professional actor under the present Equity instruction not to take some advertising work during the current dispute. Like others I am dismayed that, as you report, some DJs are taking up the work which would otherwise have gone to actors ("Dispute helps Smashey and Nicey rediscover their voices", 7 November.)

The greatest subsidy that the arts receive in Britain is the willingness of thousands of performers, who have not been selected for "stardom", to work for very low or subsistence wages so that, for example, Shakespeare, live music and dance can be seen in corners of the UK which commercial and market forces would not deign to touch.

Others suffer chronic unemployment for long periods in a patient faith in their own talent and the work they love and revere - often to be vindicated after years of poverty and some contempt - when they achieve a modicum of final success. Television and other commercials have been one way in which professionals have been able to survive in the barbarity of the British economic attitude to lesser-known performers.

Perhaps the advertisers are in dire straits and are having to economise on actors' earnings to make ends meet. The contrast I find, however, between their often bloated lifestyles and the plight of committed young, and not so young, performers, makes me suspect that their interests are not for the artistic prosperity of the nation, but for personal greed.


London SW6