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On Our Team Launches New System for Establishing and Recognizing Pay Equity in Theater

The Pay Equity Standards were developed to address increasing calls for equity and the current arts and culture sector needs.

On Our Team Launches New System for Establishing and Recognizing Pay Equity in Theater

On Our Team has developed a first of its kind tool to help theater companies establish pay equity within their organization and serve as a public recognition for equitably paid theater.

The Pay Equity Standards were developed to address increasing calls for equity and the current arts and culture sector needs. The arts and culture industry added $919.7 billion to the nation's GDP in 2019 and the industry includes 5.2 million workers with a total compensation of $447 million, according to a report by the NEA released in 2021. Yet, as a UNESCO study from 2019 titled Culture & Working Conditions for Artists stated, "the largest subsidy for the arts comes not from governments, patrons or the private sector, but from artists themselves in the form of unpaid or underpaid labour."

Calls for a more fair and equitable industry have become more urgent than ever as the theater industry navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, renewed calls for diversity and access within the industry, and mass unemployment of theater workers. The Pay Equity Standards were developed out of hundreds of hours of interviews with producers and theater company executives, and feedback from artists, staff, and leaders of theater companies of all sizes across the country.

Designed as a checklist, the Pay Equity Standards lay out a path to establishing equitable pay using a three-pronged approach to pay equity: Transparency, Working Conditions, and Accountability.

Inspired by the organic and fair trade food labels, theater companies that opt in and meet all certification requirements will be granted use of the Pay Equity Standards badge. The recognizable badge will allow audience members to make informed consumption choices and support art that is made in a way that aligns with their values. Theater workers can make decisions on where to seek employment based on which organizations have become certified. Certification may also be used by foundations to ensure that their funds are going to organizations that center equity.

Based on a 2019 report from the NEA titled Artists and Other Cultural Workers: A Statistical Portrait, between 2012-2016 "roughly 34 percent of all artists were self-employed." Theater workers often are not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act as contract workers or freelance artists. The current precarity of arts workers is not conducive to a thriving arts sector.

"The Pay Equity Standards, as a pathway to both establish and recognize equitable pay, is a step towards livable wages, removing the economic barrier to a career in the arts, and a thriving arts community," says On Our Team co-founder Theresa Ham.

Any theater company based in the USA can submit to be certified for the Pay Equity Standards at www.onourteam.org. The submission portal will be open for 2022 certification on January 17, 2022 through August 31, 2022. Certification for 2023 will begin September 1, 2022. Certification must happen each calendar year in order to retain use of the badge and remain in good standing with the Pay Equity Standards.

"Pay equity in theater will help recognize that all skills and artistic contributions are valuable in collaboratively made art," says On Our Team co-founder Christine Pascual. "It will strengthen the artistic process, and through certification by the Pay Equity Standards, organizations can truly show their community that they value the work they create."On Our Team Launches New System for Establishing and Recognizing Pay Equity in Theater



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