NoHo Audiences Care, Too!
As a theatre patron you may have heard that changes are being pressed upon Los Angeles’ intimate theaters by the national union of stage actors and stage managers, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). Over 25 years ago, Los Angeles actors got special permission from their Union to perform under Union protections without having to receive Union pay. To prevent the exploitation of its members, Equity set a size limit for the theaters in which the actors could volunteer: a maximum of 99 seats. This limit made it impossible for producers to profit from ticket revenue. This special 99-Seat Theater Plan was only available to Los Angeles County. While the LA actors could make a living wage from film and television, most of these roles were less than satisfying artistically. A chance to perform in front of an audience in works where financial returns were not paramount would provide the actors remuneration of a different kind.
On December 14, new union rules will force many theaters to pay union actors minimum wage for all rehearsals and performances causing budgets to balloon up to 400% above current levels. Many Los Angeles theatre artists and knowledgeable city leaders feel these changes are ill-conceived and will cause theaters to close, thereby effectively destroying a thriving theater community. If you share these concerns, consider writing an email to the LA Times
Your points might include:
• Local AEA members voted 2-to-1 against their union’s new plan.
• Requiring drastic budget increases for shoestring companies will kill theaters and eliminate the use of union talent.
• Actors Need an Audience! A union of theatre artists should promote artistic exploration and performance opportunities in front of audiences – not be concerned only with wage issues.
• AEA should work with the intimate theatre community to preserve vibrant theatre districts and surrounding businesses such as NoHo Arts District and Hollywood’s Theatre Row. LA’s culture will be severely damaged if AEA insists on its destructive plan. Let’s save our beautiful intimate theatre community which we have all come to cherish!
For more info on the issue go to www.ilove99.org.
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