Actors’ Equity, the union representing actors and stage managers, told members today that Broadway’s month-long shutdown is “uncharted territory,” and that discussions with employers about salary payments and employment contracts are ongoing.
“With today’s news regarding theaters on Broadway and beyond going dark, we have entered uncharted territory,” Equity writes in a string of seven tweets (read it below). “We know that this is an uncomfortable place to be if you’re an Equity member, and we hear you loud and clear. One of the most asked questions is ‘will I be paid?'”
Equity, for now, doesn’t offer a firm or complete answer to that question. “We’ve been engaged in constant conversations with employers over the last few weeks on your behalf regarding your employment contract,” the union tells its members. “Those conversations will continue and we will keep you updated as we know more.”
Equity represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers across the country.
Earlier today, following the announcement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that all Broadway productions will go dark until April 13 due to coronavirus concerns, Equity executive director Mary McColl released a statement calling the move “an important decision to protect the health and safety of everyone who works in the theatre.”
The shutdown decision, McColl said in the statement, “means tremendous uncertainty for thousands who work in the arts, including the prospect of lost income, health insurance and retirement savings. Equity will use all of our options to advocate for all our members and is engaged at all levels to ensure members are protected and paid.”
Earlier this week, Equity urged Congress to expand temporary paid leave and unemployment benefits to theater workers hit by shutdowns in California, Washington state and Washington D.C.
McColl’s statement released earlier today reads:
Gov. Cuomo has made an important decision to protect the health and safety of everyone who works in the theatre. Equity members are dedicated professionals who earn their health care and pensions one week of work at a time. Today’s decision means tremendous uncertainty for thousands who work in the arts, including the prospect of lost income, health insurance and retirement savings.
Equity will use all of our options to advocate for all our members and is engaged at all levels to ensure members are protected and paid. Now is the time for Congress and local governments to put workers first to ensure that everyone who works in the arts and entertainment sector has access to paid leave, health care and unemployment benefits. Payroll tax cuts won’t help those whose theaters are now dark. For every middle-class actor you see onstage, there are dozens of other workers behind the scenes and in an administrative capacity.
Decisions made now will impact many arts organizations and the communities they serve for months to come. Sustaining our entertainment sector and the workers who power it is essential. We must act, and quickly now, not only to protect public health, but with arts funding at all levels that ensures local arts employers have the resources they need to quickly recover and reopen. This will ensure the arts continue generating an economic halo effect in New York.
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