Actors’ Equity Negotiates Significant Wage Increases in New Contract With Off-Broadway Theaters

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Photo: 2016 Getty Images

From now on, it will be a little easier to make a living as a New York theater actor. After six months of negotiation, the Actors’ Equity Association and the League of Off-Broadway Theaters and Producers, which represents nonprofit and commercial theaters in New York between 100 and 499 seats, concluded negotiations on a new five-year contract for actors and stage managers who work at commercial and nonprofit theaters in New York. While the full details of the agreement haven’t been released, according to the New York Times, the agreement includes “hefty wage increases,” ranging from 32 to 81 percent over the five-year contract. Previously, the minimum contract paid $593 a week, which, after union fees, agents’ fees, and taxes, fell far below the cost of living in New York, according to many actors. “The wage increases will allow actors and stage managers to continue to do the work that we love Off-Broadway, while being able to support ourselves financially,” Actors’ Equity president Kate Shindle said in a statement. “We are thrilled with the result and overjoyed to be able to continue creating some of the most dynamic, exciting, and creative theater in the world, in partnership with our friends and producers Off Broadway.”

In an interview, Nick Westrate, a spokesperson for Fair Wage Onstage, a group which has advocated publicly for better salaries for actors through a variety of social-media campaigns, said the new contract leaves room for flexibility for smaller theaters, such as the LAByrinth, which don’t have the same funding as commercial theaters, or larger nonprofits, such as the Public. “Everyone worked together to figure out this solution,” Westrate said, “and it just shows what we are capable as community when we come together.”