New AEA-Broadway League Production Contract Raises Actor Wages, Affirms Commitment to Equity, More | Playbill

Industry News New AEA-Broadway League Production Contract Raises Actor Wages, Affirms Commitment to Equity, More

Playbill has obtained details of the new contract tentatively agreed to by the theatrical organizations earlier this month.

The new production contract tentatively agreed to by both The Broadway League (representing Broadway producers) and Actors' Equity Association (representing actors and stage managers) includes pay raises, increased time off, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, according to a copy of Equity's summary of changes obtained by Playbill. The agreement is currently being voted on by Equity's membership, which is needed to finalize the contract.

The agreement, which will cover the next three years, includes a 5% raise in the first year of the agreement, and 4% raises the two following, with that increase retroactive to September 26 of this year. That sets the minimum weekly salary for actors on Broadway at $2,323, increasing to $2,638 by 2024. Actors will also see increases to increments received when playing chorus parts, understudying chorus parts or specialties, understudying principal roles, being a partial swing, or serving as fight captain, ranging from 7–30% additional.

The contract also increases time off. Under the new terms, one-and-a-half consecutive days off will be required for every four weeks of studio rehearsal, with an additional day-and-a-half off should there be a fifth week. Productions will be able to call actors to two fewer 10/12s (where rehearsals run for 10 hours of a 12-hour period), while understudies, dance captains, and stage managers will now only be able to be called for 10 weekly rehearsal hours after opening night. All actors and stage managers now get three days of paid sick time at the beginning of rehearsals, and anyone making $5,000 or less per week will be paid for that time at their contractual salary. The previous contract had a salary cut off that rendered some high-paid individuals without paid sick time available. The new contract also allows for an additional personal day off.

Protocols around coverage also saw updates. Swings required to combine five or more tracks in one performance (meaning covering elements of five or more different regular ensemble members' staging) will see 1/8th of their add-on payment added to their increment, with the agreement also calling for the creation of set contingency plans from production staff should such adjustments happen too frequently. The contract adds a provision for Short-Term Actors to encourage additional coverage as needed. That provision requires actors be hired on a three-day or four-performance minimum with a full health week contribution, and requires they receive at least two hours of rehearsal.

New safety measures included in the agreement include expanded access to physical therapy, deep cleaning in all theatre spaces, an emergency action plan that's been reviewed by Equity, increased rehearsal time focusing on firearm safety, and quarterly meetings between AEA and The Broadway League to discuss ventilation, air quality, temperature, and injuries. All Extraordinary Risk language has also been removed from the contract.

The contract also helps to provide for equity, diversity, and inclusion on Broadway. Among these measures are a commitment to engage with an actor to identify a licensed technician to consult when required hair styles may alter or risk harm to the actor with an increased financial responsibility for hair maintenance covered by producers; creation of a Labor Management Committee to determine best practices around intimacy on stage and in rehearsals; a commitment to recognizing gender identities and expressions when identifying change facilities, restrooms, and showers; and further work towards making the casting process accessible when characters with disabilities are involved.

Changes to the audition process include new limits on audition materials and a required plunk track—a recording of someone playing the melody on a piano—if actors are being asked to learn music. A new pilot program will allow a combination of both in-person auditions and pre-recorded video submissions, while productions will also have the ability to use one of two annually required chorus replacement auditions for multiple companies of the same production.

Among the other updates are ensuring loss and damage coverage for musical instruments when in use by actor-instrumentalists, and new limited baggage rules for pre-Broadway runs for eight or less weeks in only one city.

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