Industry insiders have their eyes on Off-Broadway this week as the clock counts down on a vital contract between Actors’ Equity Association and the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers.
Neither side has publicly commented on details of the contract or its progress, but a key item up for negotiation has come to light in the press: actor compensation.
#FairWageOnStage, a grassroots movement founded by actors who work on the Off-Broadway contract, have gone public with a media campaign detailing what’s at stake for them.
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s on the Table:
Actor and Stage Manager salaries
New York’s professional actors and stage managers say they cannot earn a living wage under the current contract.
Facts and Figures:
Off-Broadway is defined by the seating capacity of theatres, which may range from 100-499 seats. The size of the theatre (in most cases) determines how actors are paid.
At the small end (100-199 seats), the current AEA contract requires a weekly minimum salary of $593.
At the large end (351-499 seats), the contract requires a weekly minimum salary of $1,057.
Some not-for-profit Off-Broadway theatres are on a separate contract that can pay as little as $361 a week.
According to Actors’ Equity, 63 percent of Off-Broadway theatres pay at the lowest rate of $593 a week.
According to an AEA survey, actors say they require a minimum weekly take home of $815 (after taxes and commission) to cover basic living expenses in New York City.
Numerous variables factor into the economics of producing an Off-Broadway show in the commercial and non-profit spheres. While ticket prices have risen (in some cases they nearly mirror those on Broadway), smaller venues and shorter runs limit box-office revenue potential. Because of this, most Off-Broadway non-profit theatres rely on fundraising rather than box-office revenue to cover everything from operating costs to artists’ salaries.
AEA and the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers have been in negotiations since June 2016 to hammer out details of the new contract, one that actors are hoping will include a “historic” pay increase.