Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Non-Equity’ Category

aea logoannie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Two options with blank road signs

Greetings after a bit of a hiatus, and welcome to the 2014-2015 touring season!

Actually, the season pretty much started back in September, so we’re in the thick of it now!

But how did we get to this point? Hundreds of touring engagements will make their way across North America this season, as they do every season. What are the basic mechanics of the business that make that happen year after year? What’s the timeline?

Well, aren’t you glad you found The Road 101, because it is here where you’ll find out how that wholllle process works! A process that is a long, complex, ongoing cycle. There are many places I could begin, but for this post, I am going to begin discussing this cycle with the Tony Awards Nominations as a starting point, which typically take place at the end of April.

There are many types of shows that are out on The Road in a season and it is often a foregone conclusion that many of these will be back out there — the blockbuster, the second and third year tour, the non-Equity tour, the special attraction, and the smaller Off Broadway type show that has built its brand over many years, are just some examples.

Then, there are the new shows coming from Broadway in the current season. So, in this case, we’re talking the 2014-2015 Broadway season. These shows are the touring question marks. Which ones will make it out on The Road in 2016-2017? That’s right. Wrap your head around that for a second so you can follow along. The shows running on Broadway in 2014-2015 are being considered for touring in 2016-2017.

The Broadway 2014-2015 season is still evolving as I write this post, and booking agents (some already representing some of these shows) and presenters are watching closely which Broadway shows will make it through the season and rise to the top. When the Tony nominations come out in April 2015, that is a moment when certain shows could get a key boost, especially those shows nominated for Best Musical. Though agents and presenters are seeing shows throughout the entire season, it is typically during Tony Awards season when many in the industry check out Broadway to see which are most likely to end up being viable touring properties. A lot of this theatre-going happens during the annual Spring Road Conference, which typically takes place between the Tony nominations and the Tony Awards. Now, winning a Tony Award this season does not necessarily guarantee that a show will go out on tour for the 2016-2017 season. There are many factors that a producer and a general manager need to take into consideration before deciding if their show is viable enough for a tour:

  1. Did the show make it through Tony season in good shape both from an awards standpoint and a box office standpoint?
  2. Did the show make a good impression on enough presenters?
  3. Can the show offer a deal that presenters can work with?

Okay, so, the 2015 Tony Awards have happened and we are now in summer 2015. The blockbusters, second year tours and non-Equity tours are largely routed and slotted in for the 2016-2017 touring season. The booking agents are also more clear at this point regarding which of the new 2014-2015 Broadway shows they represent will likely make it out on The Road in 2016-2017, and which will fall by the wayside. The final part of the 2016-2017 touring season programming process is now in full swing as booking agents and presenters work through final deals and tour routing. Again, these interactions happen throughout the year, but it is during the summer and into the early fall where all programming MUST be finalized.

Why must programming be finalized by fall 2015? Because it is at this point that presenters need to then begin figuring out how they want these shows to be priced. It is important to be thoughtful about all the details that go into pricing and to consider all data and history available to maximize profit. If an engagement is not priced and discounted correctly at the outset, there is the chance that the engagement could lose money, or, conversely, it may make money, but if it was underpriced and over-discounted at the outset there is a chance of “leaving money on the table,” meaning even more money could have been made. The opportunity to maximize profit is then further exploited via dynamic pricing.

So, once the presenter decides on the pricing for a show, which includes prices for singles, subscribers and groups, the presenter then sends this pricing to the show’s booking agent for consideration, which oftentimes ends up turning into a back and forth negotiation. Again, multiply this step by many, many engagements that need to go through this detailed process. For a large company like Broadway Across America with numerous markets, the ticket pricing process takes several months to complete. During the pricing process, things move fast and timing is everything, as prices need to be agreed to by the show and the presenter and locked in quickly so the marketing teams can then get to work on creating the brochures, which will include these prices and discounts, and which need to go into the mail to subscribers by certain established deadlines.

The time is now winter of 2015-2016. The 2016-2017 pricing process is beginning to wind down as we move into March. The booking agents and presenters are making any final little programming and deal tweaks to the 2016-2017 season while at the same time are also in the process of booking the 2017-2018 touring season. Meanwhile, as all this is happening, don’t forget, the 2015-2016 engagements are currently out on the road on tour requiring constant management through the end of their tours in May or June, each engagement culminating in its own final bravo – settlement.

And now, it’s Tony Awards season again. Which brings us back to where we started.

Pfew. Did you follow all that? Yeah, I’m still learning to wrap my head around it, too, and I WORK in the business!

In the end, this is just a broad overview of how the booking and pricing cycle works as I have come to understand it. It is likely that others in the industry would have other details to add, but this should give you a pretty good sense of the general timing of it all.

If you have questions, feel free to email me anytime at robin@theroad101.com. If I don’t get back to you immediately, please forgive me. I’m probably swamped in pricing for 2015-2016.

woman-tearing-hair-out

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

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’

Read Full Post »

walking-on-the-side-of-the-road

An article in yesterday’s New York Times exposed the growing frustrations of some of AEA’s membership about upcoming 14/15 tours using lower-tiered contracts. You can check out that NYT article here.

For more information about the Short Engagement Touring Agreement (SETA), please check out my post from a few years ago here.  Also, in a more recent post, actor Patrick Oliver Jones, currently on tour with EVITA, talks about how the SET Agreement works here.

Stay tuned for more on this issue as details develop following AEA’s Town Hall Meeting on January 27.

Read Full Post »

big fish

It’s generally expected that most shows will play Broadway first, and THEN go out on a national tour. However, it seems lately that it’s becoming a bit more common that this is happening the other way around, with a show having a pre-Broadway tour first, followed by a Broadway run, which was a more typical scenario many decades ago.

FLASHDANCE, for example, currently on the road, has a target Broadway opening of August 2013 according to the Theatrical Index.

Why the change?

A pre-Broadway tour potentially makes sense. There is a good chance that a show with a well-known title will sell well and create buzz, and creative teams will also have more of a chance to work on the show, and get it more ready for Broadway. Also, a set is pretty much built and ready to be loaded into a Broadway house. And the city of Chicago is now especially a big draw to Broadway producers to get a show on its feet pre-Broadway because of the tax breaks being offered to pre-Broadway tryouts in the state of Illinois. A couple of posts where I bring up tax breaks for pre-Broadway runs in other states can be found here and here.

Possible issues, though, with a show starting out as a tour before coming to Broadway is that a touring show often has a different feel than a Broadway show. It’s an intangible thing, but there is a certain quality that is needed on Broadway for a show to succeed. NYC area theater-goers are not accustomed to seeing tours, so if a production seems a little cheaper or less seasoned, it will be evident.

Below is a link to a recent article in the Chicago Daily Herald that brings up both the pre-Broadway and post-Broadway tour scenarios. It also touches on several other topics that producers and presenters are constantly weighing, such as Equity vs. non-Equity tours, and tours with stars versus tours without stars.

‘Jekyll and Hyde’ helps bring back extensive pre-Broadway tours

Read Full Post »

The 2011-2012 touring season is just about to begin, and may have even officially begun in certain markets. For 11-12 The Road will include shows that opened on Broadway during the 09-10 season such as MEMPHIS, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, THE ADDAMS FAMILY and LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. In addition to these new shows, there will also be the usual blockbusters that have been on The Road for years such as WICKED, JERSEY BOYS and MAMMA MIA.

In between the old standby blockbusters and the new productions, you will also have your titles that come back after having gone out last season, and possibly even the season before that, and maybe even a season or so further back. Most of these traditional shows have at this point been restructured to be less expensive, and so are now either at a lower AEA contract, or may have been rebuilt altogether as Non-Equity tours.

The thing about Non-Equity tours is that, just like the bigger, more expensive AEA shows, these productions also need to book a minimum number of weeks to build a viable tour, or else they simply can’t afford to go out. Many of the smaller markets are typically on the route of Non-Equity tours and so the folks in these areas will likely be accustomed to the scaled down, less seasoned feel of this level of production. But ultimately, these tours do need to potentially hit more major markets, simply for routing purposes as they move from one place to another. This isn’t always the best of circumstances for a Non-Equity show since larger cities are used to a certain level of quality.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is one example of a tour that has been out for several years now and, while it was indeed on Broadway at one point, it is now a Non-Equity tour. While reviewers are not necessarily on the same wavelength as ticket buyers, and this show continues to draw audiences around North America, here is a review of the show that takes issue with the show being Non-Equity and playing a large theatre market like Chicago:

“Belle and Mr. Beast save an otherwise hairy production”

As a basis of comparison, here is what smaller market Providence had to say about the same touring production back when it first started in Feb 2010:

“A beauty of a ‘Beast at PPAC”

Read Full Post »