The performing arts industry has suffered immeasurably through Covid. As the word lockdown became an everyday term, work for actors vanished overnight. Yet in the midst of the global pandemic a co-operative actors’ agency adapted - and even managed to reduce the commissions it charges.
Crescent Management is a London-based actors’ co-operative agent. All 24 carefully selected actors its represents are also members of the co-op and agents - with each committed to representing the agency. The members were forced to make some tough decisions - including vacating their London office - when the impacts of Covid struck.
Decisions were all made for their long-term benefit of the co-op and its members - who of course are the actors themselves. Those decisions included reducing the commissions the agency charges its members. Emily said: “Being a co-op has made a huge difference. Many actors agencies have just collapsed. Even if the employees of those agencies had switched to working from home there’s still salaries to be paid.
“It’s a real democracy here,” added Emma. “There’s nothing that’s decided by head honchos. We take joint responsibility for our careers, and we take the time to get to know each other and each other’s work.”
Actors taking more control over their own livelihoods has not met with universal approval. And the members need to buy into the collective ethos. Emma said: “Britain can be very snobby in the entertainment industry. Co-ops are sometimes looked down upon – viewed as being second best to the top agents. That can be problematic.
“It’s a very very competitive business. You have to be selfless here. Whether the competition for roles is within our agency or not – you’d be up against the same people anyway, We’re all trying to get each other into that same room. You have to be ego-less and do what’s best for each other collectively.”
The 24 members of Crescent Management work together in a “massive job share.” Covid has made training new members a trickier process, particularly in terms of the complexity of industry standard software. However, giving members collective responsibility over their careers is proving a win-win.
“Most people come to co-ops for a number of reasons. They want to really understand the business; they want more control. There’s not the pressure from agents to take work - you can say ‘I don’t fancy that’. It’s really empowering. There’s more transparency in what we do. There’s much more freedom.”