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Posts Tagged ‘Non-Equity’

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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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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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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.

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apap2013

If it’s January…it must be APAP!

APAP is probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest conference related to The Road, non-profit arts companies and individual artists. I discussed what the APAP conference is in some detail in a previous post. You can check that post out here.

This year, the conference begins tomorrow, and runs through January 15th.

If you’re a producer, presenter, artist, or manager and in the NYC area this weekend, you may want to register for part of the conference and check out some of the action at the Hilton, and one or more of the many varied showcases.

APAP NYC – 2013

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST runs in Columbus this week, and stars a young woman who dreamed of playing Belle one day…

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

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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”

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Are touring orchestras getting larger?

When a Producer is putting together a musical for a commercial tour she likely takes into consideration the potential expenses that will be associated with each engagement of that tour, and logic would also dictate that she would aim to build the show in such a way as to keep these engagement costs in line with the size and scope of the show. For instance, the Producer of a tour that has been out there a couple of years, and which doesn’t have the same level of momentum it did when it first began, will likely consider re-building and scaling down the production’s size so that it does not require the same number of Stagehands, Musicians and set pieces as, say, a new tour of a recent Broadway hit, or a longtime blockbuster.

Stagehands are often the single most expensive cost for an engagement. Loading a show in and out of a venue is usually the bulk of it, and then that can sometimes get even more expensive, prohibitively so, if there’s overtime involved, which can happen when a show is in the midst of it’s first few jumps and hasn’t established a yellow card yet. It can also happen when the show is delayed getting to it’s next market due to weather, or other travel issues, and so the load-in in those cases will inevitably go into OT so that the first scheduled performance can take place.

After Stagehands, probably the next most consistently expensive touring engagement cost for a musical is Musicians. When a tour is on the road, especially a new show, or a blockbuster, the Musicians expense will inevitably be a cost that will either be a shared cost between Producer and Presenter, (Guarantee deal, certain kinds of Terms deals) or fully paid for by the Presenter (certain kinds of Terms deals.) If the show has been out there for a long time, or is a Non-Equity tour, the Musicians costs will usually be “self-contained,” meaning that the show travels with all their own Musicians and this expense will not be a shared expense between Producer and Presenter. Presumably, the cost of Musicians in a self-contained show is part of the Guarantee that the Presenter pays to the Producer for licensing that show.

Is your head completely spinning now? Sorry. The main point I’m getting to here is that labor is expensive and both the Producer and Presenter are constantly doing what they can, often through negotiation, to each keep their engagement expenses down. At the same time, when the Producer is initially building a show to tour, while she wants to keep the costs down she also still wants the show to look good and sound good, which brings me back to the Musicians. It seems that even with the desire of both Producer and Presenter to keep tour costs down, the orchestras for some shows currently on The Road are rather large, which I first began discussing in my post “Mu$ic To The Road’$ Ear$?”

Presenters are generally skeptical about the need for large orchestras in touring shows, even though they appreciate them from an artistic standpoint, because in order to mitigate their risk they will often need to look to increasing ticket prices, which could potentially alienate the subscriber base they’ve taken so long to cultivate.

Here’s a recent article from The Washington Post that talks a bit about the larger orchestras out on The Road:

A HIGH POINT IN THE PIT

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