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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

88% of Actors Unemployed?

Take a look at this posting over at Fractured Atlas.

"What I found interesting, though, were some actual stats from Actors' Equity about their members' collective employment. Apparently during the week of Aug. 20-26, only 12% of Equity members living in New York City were in an Equity show (including Bway, Off-Bway, and Off-Off-Bway)."

Definitely give it a read and check out the sources for those statistics.

(h/t TheatreForte)

More grist for the mill.

One of the uses of Code Reform is to transform those Off-Off Broadway stipend jobs into jobs that contribute to Health Insurance and help successful Off-Off companies work towards higher tiers. Essentially, there needs to be more work that pays, and that means supporting the producers that would like to pay.

Currently, many small producers pay as much as they can given the economic challenges in NYC. Many pay more than they are obligated to by the Code. We've all heard stories of books being cooked, just so actors can be paid and production values can stay high.

More successful shows means more employment for Equity actors. Seems like easy math. I hope the goal within Equity is to find an equitable (pardon the pun) solution, as opposed to playing a waiting game and doling out incremental changes ($20 tickets?) as a means of quieting unrest.

The bottom line of all of this is the health of the art form. Economic feasibility is a part of that health.

UPDATED: Now with Functional Link!


Anonymous said...

If they're including Off-Off Bway (showcase) employment in that 12% figure, wow, that's astonishing. That would mean that I work more often than the vast, vast majority of Equity actors, though I don't always see much money.

Frankly, I have a hard time believing that. You also gotta figure that hugely successful NYC-based actors with Equity cards and regular film/TV gigs (soap stars, for instance, or Al Pacino) are being included in that "unemployed" figure.

Anonymous said...

I keep my union card, but am currently only directing and producing, so my apologies for screwing up the numbers, although there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, who like me believe in unions even when no longer hunting for acting work.

And I'm not sure we're all defining "employment" the same. I read the words used, but I think AEA considers showcase work volunteering and not in the 12%.

I do wonder if there were a fruit pickers union in a farming area, would we have them encourage members to take work for half-pay or less just cuz it's more than transportation fare, or would we encourage everyone to holdout until all could make a living wage?