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Annie

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Happy Holidays from TR101! I’ve often discussed on this blog how theatre helps local economies. The evidence out there consistently supports this, all the way up the scale from small non-profit venues and organizations to the big commercial productions. So I was not surprised to read a recent article in The Atlantic how the arts have been a main driver of Pittsburgh’s revitalization, especially thanks to the work of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. I have seen this upswing with my own eyes over the past six plus years that I have been traveling to Pittsburgh for settlement. The changes in downtown Pittsburgh have been quite noticeable. The past couple of years have been especially exciting, as new ambitious restaurants begin to dot the area around the cultural district, and new hotels are being planned. The many Pittsburghers I know and are friends with are proud of their city. It’s a place where good people come from. It’s a special city with a rich history and a warm, town-like feel. And now, they can take pride in this…

http://m.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/12/how-the-cultural-arts-drove-pittsburghs-revitalization/383627/

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Hey there, hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Looks like Actors’ Equity Association isn’t giving thanks these days to touring producers for producing Non-Equity tours and road presenters for including these Non-Equity shows in their Broadway Series. If a tour is Non-Equity is it misleading to include it on a Broadway series? AEA thinks so. A recent New York Times article describes the campaign AEA is currently promoting in Chicago in order to gain the sympathies of audience members attending Non-Equity shows at venues such as The Cadillac Palace Theater.

AEA’s touring production contracts terms are up in September 2015 (see p.127) and so the union has been working to gain leverage and strength. In addition to this campaign, AEA has also been holding forums over the past year to hear the concerns of their membership about the lower tiered Equity touring contracts. These are the contracts AEA negotiated about ten years ago to incentivize producers to produce Equity tours in order to garner more consistent work for their union members.

Will AEA’s approach of reaching out to audience members ultimately have an effect on enough people to support their position? Do enough audience members even care, or notice the difference between the Equity and Non-Equity tours that share billing on a presenter’s Broadway series?  Check out this thought-provoking Howlround post by Greg Redlawsk for more on this topic.

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Census MichiganI’ve talked a lot here about the tax credit incentives for commercial theatre productions that in recent years have become more and more common. These tax breaks will likely make a difference with regard to where producers launch a tour, or do a pre-Broadway run, and this decision will subsequently have an impact on that local economy. New York State is the most recent state to get on the tax credit boat. Now that New York has entered the mix, there will be even more competition to get these shows.

Case in point: below is a link to a recent article where we see a real example of how Chicago benefited at Detroit’s expense with regard to the launch of the MOTOWN THE MUSICAL National Tour in part because of the Illinois Live Theatre Production Tax Credit Program. It’s too bad, as Detroit would have made more sense for the launch of the “MOTOWN” tour from a historical standpoint, and that city certainly could have used the jobs and economic bump.

“How Chicago lured MOTOWN THE MUSICAL away from Motor City”

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uncle sam dollar sign bagbway in binghamton

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Wonderful news out of Albany yesterday, which is not something I get to say too often. No April Fool’s joke, the State Legislature approved a tax credit in the state budget for FY14-15 that will cover 25% of production-related costs for shows that tech and/or try out road tours, or pre-Broadway productions in the State of New York outside the boundaries of New York City. I first mentioned the possibility of this tax credit back in October 2013 in this post.

Below are links to several articles that cover this recent win-win for New York State and Broadway tours and pre-Broadway productions. And if it’s a success this will show, once again, how beneficial the performing arts can be to local economies. Hopefully, this will set a good example and one day a tax credit will also be considered for other sectors of the theatre industry, especially the historically and culturally significant, but vulnerable independent theatre sector in New York City where so many performers, directors, designers, managers, and producers that work on these Broadway level shows got their start.

Bravo, Albany!

THE NEW YORK TIMES

PLAYBILL

THEATERMANIA

BROADWAY WORLD

AP

amNY

SCHENECTADY GAZETTE

BUFFALO NEWS

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contract - cartoonYesterday, Actors’ Equity Association held a forum where its membership had the opportunity to voice concerns regarding what some performers view as the unfair utilization of lower tiered touring contracts by certain productions that will be going out on tour in the 14-15 season. Here is a follow up article on the forum in The New York Times.

Having been an actor myself, and someone who now also has a number of years of experience on the business side of theatre under my belt, I have a decent understanding of both sides. I chose not to attend the forum, but based on the NYT article it sounds as though the AEA leadership provided a sense of the historical and financial context that led to the establishment of these various mutually agreed upon lower tiered union touring contracts.

But is AEA’s membership now satisfied and willing to accept the way things stand, or when it’s time for AEA to re-visit these contracts will the membership push their leaders to seek changes? Any thoughts, or predictions? Feel free to share!

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Returning to the topic of a recent post, below is a link to an article by Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribunewho shares his thoughts about the increased use of tiered contacts for national tours that lately has members of AEA up in arms.

Would love to hear your comments on this issue here at The Road 101 if you have ’em!

‘How and why actors’ paychecks are shrinking on tour’

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SPIDERMAN - WSJNow that it’s lights out for the most expensive show in Broadway history, SPIDERMAN – TURN OFF THE DARK after a widely reported troubled run, does the show have a chance of spinning a new web somewhere else?

Maybe.

Check out this article in The New Yorker  that discusses ways of making lemonade out of a Broadway lemon. One of the ways is on The Road. I talked a bit about this in a recent post. The New Yorker article broad strokes things a bit about The Road, as making any show that goes out on tour a commercial success — Broadway flop or Broadway success — depends on a combination of smart producing, thoughtful season programming, attentive day to day management, and expert tour marketing. These missing details aside, however, there are plenty of useful takeaways here. Especially the reminder that “Theatre is a business, yes, but it’s a weird one.”

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