Actors' Equity Authorizes Strike That Could Pause In-Development Plays and Musicals | Playbill

Industry News Actors' Equity Authorizes Strike That Could Pause In-Development Plays and Musicals

The performer and stage manager union is currently negotiating with The Broadway League over a Development Agreement that expired February 11.

12:40 PM ET, Updated with a response from The Broadway League.

Professional actor and stage manager union Actors' Equity Association has authorized a development strike against The Broadway League, a move that could see developmental workshops for plays and musicals put on pause. It should be noted this authorization has not begun an actual strike.

The strike would be over a Development Agreement, which governs the terms by which actors and stage managers work on developmental workshops prior to full productions. The development of this agreement already resulted in a 2019 strike, over what was then called a Lab Agreement. That strike lasted 33 days.

The current Development Agreement expired February 11. The union and The Broadway League have been in negotiations for a new agreement since January 22.

“We know that show development is work,” says Equity Executive Director and lead negotiator Al Vincent, Jr. in a statement. “This development work hopefully leads to successful shows, some of which have long lives with many iterations that can make a lot of money for producers. We know there is no revenue from the development sessions themselves, but it’s still work, and that doesn’t change whether there’s revenue today or whether it’s an investment producers are making against future profits. And that work must be appropriately compensated.”

"We have been engaged in good faith negotiations with Actors’ Equity regarding development work," reads a statement from Broadway League General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Labor Relations Jason Laks. "These negotiations have no impact on any Broadway or touring productions. The contract we are negotiating covers only short-term employment in the early stages of development work on projects that may or may not ever become fully-realized productions. As the Union itself has acknowledged, this work does not generate revenue for the producers. We look forward to returning to the bargaining table and continuing our efforts towards reaching an agreement."

It has typically been difficult for the organizations to strike the right balance between pay for actors and stage managers during the development process versus profit-sharing agreements for later productions, the latter to compensate workshop participants for their contributions to the final work. Before the Lab Agreement, workshop actors would collectively share 1% of the show's future profits (meaning after the initial investment has been recouped), and The Broadway League used this as a way to allow for lower pay during the actual workshop. The Lab Agreement raised actor pay for the developmental work but removed future profit sharing, a notion that returned with the 2019 Developmental Agreement. The union has not been specific about demands or grievances this time around.

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