Average stagehand at Lincoln Center in NYC makes $290K a year

JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Is this right?

"At Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the average stagehand salary and benefits package is $290,000 a year.

Across the plaza at the Metropolitan Opera, a spokesman said stagehands rarely broke into the top-five category. But a couple of years ago, one did. The props master, James Blumenfeld, got $334,000 at that time, including some vacation back pay.

Ahern also notes that the top paid stagehand at Carnegie Hall makes $422,599 a year in salary, plus $107,445 in benefits and deferred compensation."


Someone please debunk this--
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
frogs_fan85
Broadway Legend
joined:12/3/05
I know that part of this is completely accurate.

It's important to note that these packages are "salary plus benefits" and at one of these theaters the benefits are calculated as 49% of salary.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Would you finally now believe me when I say that the price of a Broadway ticket is too high because unions have driven up the price?
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Frogs I noticed that they slipped the benefits in there- and obviously the purpose of the article was union bashing-- but those numbers 9If accurate) are staggering.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
ghostlight2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/5/04
The subject title of this thread (culled from the article, I know) is wholly inaccurate.

This kind of article is disingenuous. The average stagehand is lucky to make enough money for top tier medical benefits. I know many who weren't able to make enough for benefits at all last year ($35,000).

The situation discussed is a highly unusual one. The stagehands named are specialized, and know the theater inside and out, which is critical. They work many, many events in a year, back to back, and work very long hours, back-breaking, exhausting work, for weeks on end. It's high-stress and tough on the body. They don't have time with their families, they work holidays. Their hourly rate is far higher than your "average" stagehand - but never mind the facts, let's just spin these figures to make all stagehands look bad. These guys work very hard for their money, and they completely sacrifice their personal lives for it.

From the original article:

"The work has to be done, for three stages, with 800 events a season, and it requires expertise and experience.

The five men practically live in the building in season, often working from 8 a.m. to past midnight. Their average workweek is 80 hours."


It's just your typical union-bashing article, skewing the facts, and no, Goth, I won't believe that the unions are to blame for the rising costs of tickets. For that, look to the greed of the producers.

SeanMartin
Broadway Legend
joined:9/4/06
>> I won't believe that the unions are to blame for the rising costs of tickets. For that, look to the greed of the producers.

A little of both, IMHO. When the union says a musical house *must* have a certain number of musicians, even if the show doesnt require them, then it's not the producer's greed at play.
http://docandraider.com
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Thanks for your input ghostlight- Your response was exactly what I hoped to see.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
ghostlight2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/5/04
The practice of "walkers" has long since gone by the wayside, SeanMartin. Musicians are increasingly being replaced by synthesizers - and let's not forget the producers'fortunately thwarted attempt some years ago to do away with orchestras entirely, replacing them with "virtual orchestras". Look at the breakdown of any Broadway endeavor. Labor (actors, musicians, stagehands, etc) has not inflated over the decades, but advertising and rent has, disproportionally.

Eta: you're welcome, Joe, and thanks for keeping an open mind.
Updated On: 12/27/10 at 02:18 PM
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Hay goth, did you not get the message? I am the only one who complains about high ticket prices. Get with the program. Carry on
Mary had a little lamb : The PC signature line.
Hank
Broadway Legend
joined:5/16/03
That seems to be in line with the average school superintendent here in New Jersey. Both seem nuts, and we're all paying for it.
massofmen
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/04
massofmen
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/04
and this guy made $130,000 in 2006. I keep trying to find an article saying a broadway stagehand makes only 40k but i cannot seem to find it.
stagehand admits making 130k
allofmylife
Broadway Legend
joined:3/8/05
I cleared 30 bucks an hour working crew up in Canada in 1972. Put myself through college doing that. That would be 64,000 a year. Five or six nights a week. In 1972. With inflation and the COL spiral, 130,000 is only twice what I pulled down 40 tears ago.

The best crew members are as experienced and well-trained in their craft as a lawyer or doctor (and one-tenth as vain) and the really good ones are artists, after a fashion.

How much are pit players making these days?
http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=972787#3631451 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=963561#3533883 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=955158#3440952 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=954269#3427915 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=955012#3441622 http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=954344#3428699
TheatreDiva90016
Broadway Legend
joined:4/10/04
The crew members that they are speaking about here are in the minority.

Why do people think that everyone makes this much money?
"TheatreDiva90016 - another good reason to frequent these boards less."<<>> “I hesitate to give this line of discussion the validation it so desperately craves by perpetuating it, but the light from logic is getting further and further away with your every successive post.” <<>> -whatever2
massofmen
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/04
LOL! i am sorry! You are really saying that an asst-props guy is just as well educated and trained as a DOCTOR!?
thats what you are saying. i am hearing that correctly..say that again please..I really want to read that one more time. That the Head Carpenter at Billy Elliot is just as well trained as a Radiologist, Neuro Surgeon, Orthopedist, Anesthesiologist, OB-GYN..
HA HA HA HA! oh my God thats awesome if you admit to that.
corkystclair2
Chorus Member
joined:9/25/10
Manny Azenberg stated last year on Bloomberg...

“Over the last 25 years, all the costs have spiraled with no constraints,” Azenberg told me. The physical production, he said, “cost $100,000 then; it will cost $500,000 now.”

“The director’s fee was $25,000 then,” he continued. “It will be $100,000 now. An ad in the Times was $20,000 then; it’s $110,000 now. With payments to the pension fund and health plans, the cost of union labor today is $100 an hour.”

Obviously it's the cost of everything that contributes to a ticket price. I can't find the reference (and I wish I could) but keep in mind that the cost of stagehands running a show is something like less than 10% of the overall price of a ticket. There are theater rental fees, insurance, lawyers, accountants, cleaners, porters, ushers, actors, musicians, stagehands, management, creative team, producers, writers, marketing departments, press agents, casting agents etc. etc. all taking a piece of the pie. Musical theatre is a great employer and God bless it!

As for the guy making $300K annually including benefits... it is not a joke when people talk about the long hours. I have seen these guys... they have a cot, a fridge and a microwave in their office and never leave. 1 day a week off if you're lucky. 14 hours or MORE per day for days on end. At a venue like the Met or Carnegie Hall, the annual number of actual hours on site could easily exceed 4000. The tradeoff is $$ for sacrificing any normal sort of quality of life.

Would most people really like to sign up for this?
SNAFU
Broadway Legend
joined:4/20/04
Oh please, I run my own shop, work those same hours and make less then that a year!
Those Blocked: SueStorm. N2N Nate. Good riddence to stupid! Rad-Z, shill begone!
husk_charmer
Broadway Legend
joined:10/19/06
massofmen-

There are three things I am sure of in the world of the theatre:

1) A Chorus Line should still be running (opinion, yes, but I'm still sure of it)
2) If they think it will sell, it'll be produced (In My Life is a prime example)
3) When ghostlight says something, it is very rarely falsified or exaggerated, if ever.

Get off whatever high horse you got on, because you are wrong in this instance.

Also, the insinuation that a head carpenter isn't as highly trained as a doctor is ridiculous. You're comparing Apples to Kumquats. Sure, a head carpenter probably can't perform brain surgery, but you can bet your bippy that they are just as well trained in *their* field as a doctor is in theirs. That was what allofmylife was getting at (I presume, if not, I apologize for putting words in your mouth).

Again, that high horse, get off it.
http://www.youtube.com/huskcharmer
BosBroad
Understudy
joined:7/9/10
No offense to you, SNAFU, but the Met runs $300 million worth of productions a year with hundreds of actors and almost 2,000 employees. The stagehands are the linchpins for their productions. If a few of them - and it's a few - work 80-100 hours per week to keep everything running, then fine, more power to 'em.

The Met stage, in particular, is the biggest in the world (literally) and holds some of the most complicated sets, props, etc., anywhere in the world. They also can be dangerous and sometimes have very, very little rehearsal time (2-3 days for some). Experienced stagehands are essential.

The fact is that Met chorus members can make as little as several hundred dollars per performance with NO pay for rehearsals. So, they may work 5 weeks for 5,000 in New York City.

The biggest Met stars are paid far, far below what other performers might receive per week. Renee Fleming, for example, receives $15,000 for a performance with no rehearsal fees. This fee has been the same for ten years. She'll certainly do extremely well over her normal 12-14 performances there a year.

However, these fees clearly suggest that labor isn't the issue at Lincoln Center - particularly since there haven't been raises instituted in a decade (although the Met and LC are separate entities, they're closely linked).

Labor bashing might provide a convenient target, but it's a false one.


Updated On: 12/28/10 at 02:19 AM
Barney Stinson
Leading Actor
joined:5/1/09
PLENTY of people work long hours. Long hours doing manual labor. And they don't make close to what some of the unionized fatcats make. So spare me the 14 hours a day BS. They probably only work that long because of the BS union regs that allow them to abuse the system. And much like the articles cherry pick the highest paid, so are the posters here cherry picking the longest hours. Not everyone works that long of hours.

Even if you actually believe these guys are working 80 hours a week (and I don't) you could hire 2 people to work 40 hours per week for less than $200K a year, all in, easy. PLENTY of people who would be more than happy to do that job for that compensation.

Unions have helped maim American industry, by pushing labor costs up to a point where America simply can't compete. That's why so many jobs have been outsourced. People tend to blame "greedy corporations", but if the unions hadn't become so greedy themselves, they could have spared many many American jobs.

The unions on bway are actually 10x worse than the auto unions or other manufacturing unions, because you can't send those jobs overseas. You can't even threaten to send the jobs overseas, which means there's been nothing restraining these unions.

It is but one of many reasons for bloated production costs & ticket prices, but those other reasons don't excuse egregious stagehand compensation. That said, Broadway people in general do appear to be the absolute worst at budgeting and cost saving. Awful.
BosBroad
Understudy
joined:7/9/10
Barney:
They probably only work that long because of the BS union regs that allow them to abuse the system.

If you'll see my post above regarding the Met, you'll see that's not the case. In the case of the Met, these men are essential to the productions.

And much like the articles cherry pick the highest paid, so are the posters here cherry picking the longest hours. Not everyone works that long of hours.

But, the highest paid are those working the longest hours. That's the point. Of course, not everyone works those hours - and those people don't make near the money of the others.

The few who work those hours are the few who make that money.


Updated On: 12/28/10 at 02:28 AM
tourboi
Broadway Legend
joined:12/15/05
I always love when people call producers "greedy."

It illustrates a lack of knowledge of how the BUSINESS side of theatre works.

Do you forget the basic information that most Broadway shows FLOP? Few recoup their investments, and even fewer become huge cash cows like WICKED. Even if a show is a hit on, say, an IN THE HEIGHTS scale, sure there's profit over the years... profit divied up among all the investors, and each producer. For the amount of work that goes into producing, and running a show (as any business) day to day, it's not always as much money as you might think. Sure, if the show profits, the lead producers will make more. That goes without saying. In effect, they own the business/show, so why shouldn't they? Do you complain with Mamma Rosa who owns the local pizza shop makes more money than her employees?

Finally going back to the greedy thing. Since (as I said) MOST shows do FLOP, is it GREEDY to try and price the show to what the market will bare in hopes of even RECOUPING the investment for your backers? Is that greed?
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Depending on the show, stagehands can have a lot riding on them. Look at what's required for a show like Spider-Man.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
massofmen
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/04
Yeah, and they are doing a "bang up job" there.

Does anyone wanna talk about how much extra a stagehand gets for mopping a broadway stage every week? Or moving a piano for u/s reh? Or we can just start talking about how minimums in capitalistic society makes no sense? I love that producers have to hire a flyman even if the show doesn't have any flys :) i think thats great.
ghostlight2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/5/04
"I keep trying to find an article saying a broadway stagehand makes only 40k but i cannot seem to find it."

Don't underestimate yourself, massomen. The problem is that you didn't read the article that you yourself linked to where a stagehand "admits" to making $130,000 (as if he should be ashamed making that money by working 6 days or more a week, long hours of skilled physical labor?):

http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2008/01/28/2008-01-28_stagehand_gets_financial_direction.html

From that article:

"While he's proud to be a stagehand and has enjoyed the perks of meeting everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Bruce Springsteen and "Frankenstein" star Megan Mullally, he's in a line of work where injury is common and earnings are erratic. There have been years he's earned as little as $40,000. Given the job's physical demands, Santagata can't count on working past his 50s."

Re: the Spider-man situation, what nobody talks about is how the dry tech, originally scheduled for several weeks, was cut back to less than one. Stagehands have been struggling to catch up ever since. And sure, let's talk about extra money for mopping and moving pianos, because if you knew what you were talking about , you'd know that those were concessions given back in the last contract negotiations. The flyman issue is a critical safety matter (and btw, there are always "flys" [sic]. It's only a matter of whether something in the show is moving in them or not). Every theater is very different in regards as to how to get to the hard to get to remote flies, and where power and connections exist within them. In the event of an emergency (a flood, a fire), no one has the time to consult a blueprint, even they even can be found. The flyman knows exactly where everything is and how to get to it. Every second counts when it comes to those emergencies, and yes, if you were a cast, crew, or audience member in the unfortunate case of an emergency, you would think it was "great" that the flyman was on the premises - though you would probably not acknowledge it.

And thanks, huskcharmer. I wish people wouldn't post about things that they really don't know about.

Updated On: 12/28/10 at 11:43 AM
singtopher
Broadway Legend
joined:12/28/05
I cannot comment on IATSE, but I refuse to let anyone say AEA is tearing down the industry, and I would be hard pressed to believe that they are any worse than an automotive union.
"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it." -Stephen Colbert

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