When AEA began hearing directly from members to look at the current 99-Seat Theatre Plan and consider instituting concrete wages, the company drafted a new proposal. Under the current plan, members receive a performance stipend beginning with the first paid public performance; that amount can be as little as $7 a performance (for the first four weeks in a theatre with 1-59 seats).
In the new proposal, AEA states that the agreement will guarantee actors and stage managers are paid a salary no less than the legally mandated minimum wage and ensure members are paid for rehearsals as well as performance hours; lift restrictions on the number of performances and remove caps on ticket prices; and maintain the scheduling flexibility that has been allowed in the existing 99-seat plan so that members may take more remunerative employment during the process.
Additionally, in the proposal, AEA has created the following opportunities for Los Angeles members, allowing them to work without being under contract.
The new terms will allow members in the Los Angeles area to self-produce and collaborate under a new internal union membership rule called the Los Angeles Self-Produced Project Code. Therefore, members will be allowed to work without being under an Equity contract when they self-produce in theatres of 99 seats or fewer in Los Angeles County.
AEA will also allow members to work in existing membership companies without being under an Equity contract under a new internal union membership rule called the Los Angeles Membership Company Rule. Members may work without contract in companies in which they have participated and that are in existence as of Feb. 6, 2015, as long as the membership company produces in a theatre of 99 seats or fewer. Members will not be able to participate with companies that come to fruition after Feb. 6, 2015. In order to make these changes, AEA members in L.A. had to be notified of the proposal and a special membership meeting (held Feb. 23) as well as a series of meetings with the Review Committee must be in place, among other requirements.
The National Council will meet April 21 to discuss and make a decision on the recent proposal.