SAGA is aware that audio visual and live theatre industries around the world are investigating the viability of vaccine mandates as a condition for production work to continue in the context of the ongoing fight against the COVID pandemic.
While the South African retail and corporate sectors are indeed imposing strict vaccine conditions for all levels of staff, we note that the South African Government has not sought to impose any vaccine mandates in our sector. However, the prerogative for engaging acting and technical skills ultimately lies with producers and broadcasters. In effect, we are subject to the prescripts laid down by those who are making the work available.
SAGA has a duty to report to our members that regardless of the value you may place on taking the vaccine, some productions require actors to vaccinate as a pre-condition for being contracted. It is apparent that productions have adopted this policy giving consideration to the fact that producers are unable to insure their projects against any COVID-related losses. Producers therefore have an obligation to mitigate the risk of loss by adopting such measures as they reasonably see fit, which includes implementing a vaccine policy for actors.
In a practical sense, it is likely that actors may be asked to take the vaccine, or show proof that they have been vaccinated, before they are contracted. Producers may, at their discretion and on a case-by-case basis, assess if there are valid reasons an actor cannot or will not take the vaccine.
SAGA supports safe and sanitary production conditions, where the health of all cast and crew is treated as a priority. Our members have mandated us to participate in any industry discussions that may have an impact on actors’ working conditions, and we will continue to update them as workplace safety protocols are adjusted from time to time. COVID has taken from us some of our most loved performers, friends and family, and we remain committed to preventing any further tragic and untimely losses.
Jack Devnarain: SAGA Chairman - 15 September 2021