|Photo by Matthew Blank|
The first big challenge for the Actors' Equity Association in 2014, it seems, will be settling the matter of touring production salaries to the satisfaction of both union members and producers.
The issue in question is the use, by producers of touring production of Broadway musicals, of what are called tiered contracts. These pacts offer significantly lower salaries to performers. According to an article the New York Times, pay ranges from $700 to $1,100 a week, whereas a full production contract rewards actors with a far beefier sum of $1,800. Upcoming tours of Kinky Boots and Newsies are seeking to use tiered contracts. A casting notice posted in December 2013 by Kinky Boots advertised a $976 weekly salary.
To address the hot-button issue, Actors' Equity has scheduled a town hall meeting with members for Jan. 27. However, the topic was also discussed at a Jan. 10 membership meeting that attracted more than 350 union members.
Membership meeting are so structured, Wyman explained, that "you can't really get into a full, in-depth discussion on one topic."
How to finance touring productions of Broadway shows has long been a subject of contention. In the early 2000s, Equity offered considerable concessions to a tour of 42nd Street owing to the large cast size. When other shows requested similar consideration, the union leadership declared there would be no further special contracts for national tours. Tiered contract were introduced in 2004, largely in response to the increasing occurrence of non-Equity road productions.
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