By: Hannah Schmidt
In New York City, a strike has broken out––The Actors’ Equity Association against The Broadway League––halting the development of any new Broadway shows. But who are these people who are striking and why?
What is the Actors’ Equity Association?
Actors’ equity is a labor union founded in 1913 that represents American actors and stage managers. The union works to improve actors’ working conditions by negotiating salaries (setting minimum wage, negotiating overtime, requiring housing for tours), providing health insurance, negotiating contracts, creating work rules (breaks in rehearsals), providing greater job access, and other services.
What is The Broadway League?
The Broadway League is the “National Trade Association for the Broadway Theatre Industry” whose members include producers, managers, and theatre owners. It was created in 1930 to help negotiate with theatre unions and guilds. Along with negotiations and overseeing government relations with the Broadway industry, the Broadway League creates programming to promote Broadway and try to make Broadway tickets more accessible to the consumer.
Why is the Actors’ Equity Association Striking?
The union is currently barring members from participating on developmental labs, workshops, and stage readings, the most popular ways new Broadway shows, especially musicals, are created. Currently, the salary for actors in these workshops is about $1000 per week, and profit-sharing once the show goes on to further productions isn’t required. While some shows such as “Mean Girls” and “Hamilton” are profit sharing, the majority don’t. The union currently asks that for every $1 million a production makes, $10,000 should go to the actors and stage managers who worked on the workshops and developmental labs. Additionally, salaries on these labs have been frozen since 2007. They are currently in negotiations with the Broadway League to resolve these concerns.
Please see the Actor’s Equity Association website to learn more about the union and the strike: https://www.actorsequity.org/