Actors’ Equity Association, which has been negotiating a new contract for play and musical development, authorized a strike today to halt collaboration in rehearsal rooms known as developmental labs.
The union said that it’s negotiated fruitlessly over nearly two years to replace its developmental lab contract with the Broadway League — the trade association that represents producers and theater owners. The current contract guarantees actors about $1,000 a week but no share of profits.
Actors’ Equity said that the League has refused to grant profit sharing. The League said it’s confident that the two sides will reach agreement.
Original cast members of The Book of Mormon, operating under an earlier contract, have collectively earned millions of dollars in profit helping to create that blockbuster. Hamilton actors, after hiring a lawyer and taking to social media, likewise secured a lucrative stake in their show.
The union’s statement follows:
After nearly two years of unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a new contract to replace the Lab Agreement with the Broadway League, members of Actors’ Equity Association have declared a strike calling for a halt to all new show development work with members of the Broadway League.
The Lab Agreement with the Broadway League is a contract used for the development of new productions, often musicals. Weekly salaries on the agreement have been frozen since 2007. The strike was authorized by Equity’s National Council and follows media reports that 2018 was Broadway’s highest-ever grossing year on record.
With the strike, Equity has placed its Lab Agreement, Workshop Agreement and Staged Reading Contract and Stage Reading guidelines with the Broadway League on its DO NOT WORK list. Any Equity member who is offered work on any developmental agreement, produced by a Broadway League member producer, should contact NotALabRat@ActorsEquity.org
Some Broadway shows – such as Frozen and Mean Girls – already offer to share profits with Equity members who worked to bring their productions to life during development on the Lab Agreement. Despite this, the Broadway League has refused to agree to profit sharing as part of the new contract.
“It’s unconscionable that Equity members who go to work developing some of the biggest hits on Broadway have gone more than a decade without a raise, especially when we regularly read about many of those same shows smashing box office records and generating billions of dollars in revenue,” said Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity Association.
“An unprecedented number of Equity members have already volunteered to support our campaign for a better Lab agreement,” said Mary McColl, Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association. “We will continue our fight to make sure that Equity members can share in the success when a show becomes a hit and recoups.”
Equity’s Lab Agreement is a key part of how commercial theatre – mostly musicals – are developed. One in four Broadway shows have used a Lab Agreement before opening on Broadway. The Lab Agreement has been used 75 times since 2016. 51 percent of those Labs went on to further production.
Equity launched its #NotALabRat campaign in November, kicking off its largest member mobilization effort in years. More than 2,000 Equity members – most of them actively working in Broadway shows – have signed commitment cards to support their union. Equity members have volunteered and made more than 9,000 calls to their fellow members to support the campaign. Click here to learn more in the campaign’s introductory video.