About

Paul grew up in Birmingham in the 1980s. His mum, a health visitor, and his dad, a union activist in the car industry, shared parenting and caring responsibilities while he was growing up—providing Paul a model of gender equality that has inspired him to drive much of Equity’s work with Parents and Carers in the Performing Arts.

Paul’s family believed passionately in the value of the arts and culture, and it was through their visits to local working men’s clubs, the ballet, theatre and concerts that Paul came to share their belief that the arts should be enjoyed by all and should be open to all. This is the motivation for Paul’s work, alongside Equity activists, to remove class barriers in the entertainment industry and to widen access to creative professions.

Education

Paul went to a comprehensive school, and was the first person in his family to go to university. He studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Mansfield College, Oxford. At Oxford Paul was acutely aware of the barriers facing people from working class and diverse backgrounds entering their chosen professions through the stark inequality he saw there. He worked through his holidays to pay his way – in temping jobs, from haulage firms to the NHS.

Experience

Paul has extensive experience in press and communications, political lobbying, organising, negotiation, financial management, leadership, bargaining, campaigning and employment law.

One of his first jobs after graduating was Acting Press Secretary for the New Jersey Democratic Party in the US. In this role he lead the social media strategy, wrote press articles & speeches and organised rallies & press conferences – including for President Obama and Clinton.

Paul has also worked for Members of Parliament, and was the youngest ever regional official appointed by the general union Community which represents thousands of workers predominantly in  the steel industry. At Community, Paul fought for members individually and collectively on a range of issues including sexual harassment and bullying, redundancy and workplace health and safety. He was quickly respected as a pragmatic, intelligent and committed official who delivered results for members.

Alongside working for Equity, Paul is an elected Labour Councillor in the London Borough of Southwark. He was elected as a councillor for the first time in 2014 after a strong record of activism in his community. During his time as a Councillor, Paul has campaigned for a better deal for the arts across London Boroughs and to stop the closure of Harker’s Studios – one of London’s last theatre scenery workshops and made sure his borough was the first to commit to ensuring union rates for the artistic work it funds.

This is a man who is not only sensitive to the particular needs and demands of our profession but received his own union grounding in the tough world of the steel industry. In my experience he has an ability to analyse a problem and outthink the management with the breadth and detail of his response. He gives the lie to the misconception that our representatives are a soft touch.

Jonathan Coy

Achievements at Equity

Paul joined Equity in 2011. He was the youngest organiser in the union with a huge remit—taking responsibility for all theatre work outside of the West End. Now Paul looks after the West End too—having led on every theatre agreement the union holds.

Paul’s record includes:

Developed the first strategic plan for theatre—seeking parity across agreements and a levelling up of pay, working hours, terms and conditions for all.

Led on the creation of the union’s Class Network.

Worked with Equity’s Women’s Committee and PiPA to establish childcare and elder care provision for members.

Undertook Equity’s first National Minimum Wage Employment Tribunal Case—and won.

Reformed the Equity Fringe Agreement & got Equity staff visiting the fringe for the first time.

Secured the demands of the Yes/No campaign in all our national theatre agreements.

Coordinated Equity’s first local elections lobbying campaign in London, enabling branches and members to lobby candidates to support investment in the arts and creative spaces.

Represented Equity and the International Federation of Actors at top level Social Dialogue Committee meetings in Brussels, convened by the EU.

Oversaw a ‘quiet revolution’ in commercial touring theatre: a 65% increase in membership, and huge improvements to pay & living away allowances.

Negotiated groundbreaking recorded media agreements in theatre—including getting stage management royalties from NT Live, the first agreement of its kind.