The tour wage issue for Actors’ Equity continues as town hall meeting on Monday revealed that this is a hot topic for its members. According to three anonymous union member who spoke to The New York Times, over 400 people showed up to the four-hour meeting.
A Power Point presentation was shown by Equity leaders who informed the membership about the history of touring musicals. Some of the threats that nonunion tours have placed upon Equity tours over the years are to blame for the current state of lower wages.
While the town hall had an overall positive vibe, the members are clearly upset that two highly profitable Broadway musicals, Kinky Boots and Newsies, are choosing Short Engagement Touring Agreement [SETA] versus a full production contract used by shows like Wicked and The Lion King. A SETA contract pays 60-70 percent less than a full production contract.
The union claims that the nonunion contracts and overall economics are to blame for the SETA contract becoming the desired route for producers to take. While the next round of contract negotiations with producers begins in 2015, the membership wants a game plan now in order to secure their future as performers.
According to attendees, the only definitive step Equity leaders are taking next is to survey the membership about this issue. For many union performers, that may not be enough.
The New York Times asked Equity for a statement regarding the town hall meeting, but they were declined because the gathering was considered confidential.