Broadway musicians who performed at last November’s starry Celebrating 25 Magical Years of Disney On Broadway event want their union to back off and allow a streaming of the show to raise money for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
In a petition posted Sunday on Change.org, 14 musicians and the orchestra contractor urge Ray Hair, President of the American Federation of Musicians, to reverse his decision denying streaming rights without additional fees to the charity. Such agreements had already been reached with Disney Theatrical Productions, SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association. The petition also was signed by Adam Krauthamer, president of Local 802 chapter of the American Federation of Musicians.
“As musicians we have lost the opportunity to perform publicly, but this use of our recorded performance could have been a great tool to raise funds for people in our community that are in need,” the petition states in part.
Hair last week refused to grant the rights, arguing that musicians are currently in a “zero employment situation” and should be paid for the streamed show.
The free stream of the taped show had originally been scheduled for 7 p.m. ET tonight.
“We acknowledge that [Hair] is working hard to protect the rights of the membership,” the musicians say in an open letter accompanying the petition (read it below), “but we as an orchestra are happy to forgo any payment for the streaming of this charitable event, especially in light of the additional $25,000 of support [Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS] offered to donate on our behalf to the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund.”
As of Monday morning, the petition had garnered 8,809 of a targeted 10,000.
The open letter in full:
We find ourselves in a world that has been changed radically in just a few weeks by a terrible disease that isolates us and has changed everyone’s lives. In such a time, we must all come together for the common good. As musicians we have lost the opportunity to perform publicly, but this use of our recorded performance could have been a great tool to raise funds for people in our community that are in need.
It would serve to show the world the value of live music and could also serve as an inspiration to young musicians everywhere, in addition to being both entertaining and uplifting to audiences around the world in this troubled time.
Ray Hair, the President of the American Federation of Musicians, made this decision for us without our knowledge. We acknowledge that he is working hard to protect the rights of the membership, but we as an orchestra are happy to forgo any payment for the streaming of this charitable event, especially in light of the additional $25,000 of support BCEFA offered to donate on our behalf to the Local 802 Emergency Relief Fund. This generous donation would directly support the members of Local 802 who are most in need during this crisis. Now more than ever it is essential to join with the other members of the arts community to help those in need. We implore President Hair to allow the waiver of payment so this broadcast can raise desperately needed funds for BCEFA and provide a sense of joy and community that we can all share.
In unity and support of our community, The members of the orchestra
Jim Abbott Ann Gerschefski
David Kuhn Gary Seligson
Daniel Weiss Steve Kenyon
Greg Riley Tony Kadleck
Shelagh Abate Jason Jackson
Lori Abbott Laura Bontrager
Rolando Morales-Matos Horace “Junior” Wedderburn
Howard Joines Orchestra Contractor
Adam Krauthamer..President of Local 802 AFM