As previously reported, AEA has created a proposal for a new contract, which would guarantee actors and stage managers are paid a salary no less than minimum wage. (Under the current plan, members receive a performance stipend, which can be as little as $7 a performance, that allows them to perform as an Equity member). However, the West Coast theatre scene responded negatively. With more pay for the actors, experimental theatre in small houses may no longer be possible.
The proposal was also dismissed by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and a group of actors planned to picket their own union today.
With a protest underway, AEA has issued a statement, which follows:
Actors' Equity Association believes that, after more than 30 years in which theaters have built their models on the fact that actors won't need to be paid, it is time for a positive and progressive change in L.A.'s intimate theater scene. Equity's proposal, which resulted from six months of intensive listening to all sides of the issue has been created to answer three distinct messages from our membership — they want to be able to collaborate with like-minded artists, continue to participate in membership companies, and be paid for their work. Equity believes that actors should be respected and compensated fairly for their work, just like directors, musicians, set designers, and other professionals who are compensated in 99 seat productions.
Equity has repeatedly stated that these are proposals and should not be considered the final decision of the union. The union's National Council is and has been sensitive to all sides of the issue and will use that information in making its decision in April. Equity is strictly following the procedures in the Settlement Agreement that determines how changes are made.
We understand this is an emotional debate on all sides. Equity's proposal responds to the hundreds of members who made it clear they want to see real change in 99-Seat intimate theater and who want to be paid for their work.
Playbill.com will continue to update. The National Council will meet April 21 to discuss and make a decision on the recent proposal.