Industry Pro Newsletter: Multiple High-Profile Leadership Departures

The truce on streaming between Equity and SAG-AFTRA has come to an end.

By: Jan. 17, 2023
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A new labor agreement in the UK, multiple high profile departures, and the end of the streaming truce between AEA and SAG-AFTRA are the highlights of this week's Industry Pro newsletter, which indicates an industry that is in the midst of roaring back and finding its footing. While each of the departures is for a different reason, they all highlight the challenges that theaters will be facing moving forward - tighter budgets, retirements, and retaining talent in the industry.

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Industry Trends

The Equity/SAG-AFTRA Streaming Deal is Done by Cara Joy David

You may remember that in fall 2020, Actors' Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA were involved in a bitter dispute about streaming theater. The unions then reached a temporary agreement allowing Equity to handle most streaming theater. All was quiet. But that agreement has expired and SAG-AFTRA believes it is back to representing actors for streaming theatrical projects.

Let's talk about some history. As detailed in an October 7, 2020 New York Times article, Equity's original position was that if the streaming theater was originating from an Equity house, it fell under Equity domain. Equity accused SAG-AFTRA of overstepping by entering into contracts with its theaters. SAG-AFTRA meanwhile believed Equity was infringing on SAG-AFTRA's "long-held, exclusive jurisdiction" over streamed live theater productions. SAG-AFTRA even announced it was investigating Equity's Media Committee.

This was a little inside baseball for most, but it mattered. Equity said SAG-AFTRA was allowing work for lower rates. SAG-AFTRA agreements do not cover stage managers. Oh, and, yeah, during a pandemic, there were health insurance implications.

On October 17, 2020, SAG-AFTRA announced the filing a formal complaint against Equity and asked that Associated Actors and Artistes of America (4As) provide a mediator. SAG-AFTRA said it repeatedly offered to stand down during the pandemic, but wanted Equity to recognize that streaming was theirs and they were offering an exception. Equity was unwilling to concede this point.

But by mid-November it was all over: the "Agreement Between Actors' Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA" was finalized, its term to run through December 31, 2021. Under the agreement, in simple terms, if the streaming event was taking place at an Equity theater and was happening either as a replacement for live theater or as part of a hybrid live/virtual experience, Equity could reach the agreement about it. (Though broadcasts on paid streaming services and broadcast networks were carved out.) As part of the agreement, Equity (obviously begrudgingly) agreed that "work done for recorded or broadcast/livestreamed media, including the transmission of a live theater performance outside the theater itself, ordinarily falls within SAG-AFTRA's exclusive jurisdiction."

The Agreement was extended for two six-month periods, but expired at the end of 2022. There were talks between the unions, but no new agreement was reached. For theaters that in 2022 entered into Equity contracts with streaming components, those streaming events can occur uninterrupted in 2023, according to Equity. It's everything that is agreed to in 2023 on where the issue arises.

As recently covered in this column, there are theaters that intend to stream well into the future.

An Equity spokesperson stated: "If a theatre has an Equity contract, their relationship is with Equity and that should be where the conversation begins."

However, in a provided statement, a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson made it seem like streaming is back in the SAG-AFTRA domain: "SAG-AFTRA has been pleased to support Actors Equity Association with this agreement during a period of great challenge to the live performance sector. We will of course continue our long-standing role representing performers for work streamed by theaters going forward."

Broadway/New York

Industry Pro Newsletter: Multiple High-Profile Leadership Departures

David Binder to Depart BAM

David Binder, the creative director of BAM, will leave his position in 2024 in order to work on independent artistic initiatives on Broadway and internationally. On July 2, 2023, he will step down from his position as artistic director, but he will collaborate with BAM President Gina Duncan and the programming staff to ensure creative continuity through January 2024. Binder programmed acclaimed works that routinely played to packed theaters while effectively upholding BAM's daring style and commitment to excellence. More than 50 BAM debuts occurred under his leadership, and brought in new audiences with them. 48 percent of BAM ticket buyers for the 2021-22 season were first-timers. Click here to read more...

Barry Grove Exiting Manhattan Theatre Club

​​At the end of the 2022-2023 season, Barry Grove will leave his position as executive producer of Manhattan Theatre Club. Grove has worked closely with Lynne Meadow, the artistic director and co-founder of MTC, for 48 years. Together, they have produced close to 450 world and American premieres, bringing MTC 28 Tony Awards, 7 Pulitzer Prizes, 50 Drama Desk Awards, several Obie, Outer Critics Circle, and other awards. Click here to read more...

Broadway Advocacy Coalition Announces 2023 Fellows

Broadway Advocacy Coalition has announced the 2023 fellows selected to participate in the third annual BAC Artivism Fellowship, created to support artist-activists using their tools to have an impact on the world around them. The selected fellows are Camille Thomas (she/her) and UGBA (pronoun inclusive). Each fellow will receive $14,000 in financial support, $4,500 in project support and mentorship / networking opportunities through BAC and AQE. Click here to read more...


Industry Pro Newsletter: Multiple High-Profile Leadership Departures

Stephanie Ybarra to Leave Baltimore Center Stage

Stephanie Ybarra, the organization's artistic director for the past five years, will leave Baltimore Center Stage. Ken-Matt Martin will take over as the interim artistic director following her departure for a new post at the Mellon Foundation. At the Mellon Foundation, the largest funder of the arts and humanities in the country, Ybarra will take on the role of program officer for arts and culture. Her final day at Baltimore Center Stage will be April 1. Click here to read more...

Olney Theatre Releases Updated Report on EDIA Efforts

The theatre found that though they have made progress as an institution, there is still significant work to be done. In issuing the updated report, they hope to maintain transparency of both improvements and areas that still require attention while continuing to change as a company. Click here to read more...

Michael Maso Departing the Huntington

At the conclusion of this season, his 41st as managing director, on June 30, 2023, Michael Maso, the founding managing director of The Huntington, will leave. Maso will continue to work for The Huntington as a senior advisor and executive consultant, ensuring a smooth transition for the organization. Click here to read more

Major Shakeup at Oregon Shakespeare Festival Amidst Restructuring

Working to recover from the pandemic, Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced a major restructuring of their internal staff, including the departure of Executive Director David Schmitz and Director of Development Amanda Brandes. The company also announced additional layoffs of 19 people and have frozen hiring on the 20 open positions they had been advertising. Click here to read more...


A New Labor Agreement in the UK

The Ethical Manager Agreement for actors and stage managers has undergone significant improvements thanks to an agreement between Equity, the U.K. trade union for creative professionals, and Independent Theatre Council (ITC), the management organization representing the independent performing arts sector. The agreement also states that producers are primarily responsible for finding and providing housing, establishes a five-day workweek during the rehearsal period as the norm, lowers overall maximum working hours, increases holiday entitlements above the minimums required by law, and prioritizes wellbeing and dignity with provisions that ensure financial support for physical therapy and the contractual requirement that producers have equal opportunities and dignity. Click here to read more...

Missed our last few newsletters?

January 9, 2023 - Directors in the UK, Women of Color Leaving Theater at Alarming Rate

Over the weekend, multiple Broadway shows took their final bow, with a few more coming this week. There are a lot of shows on the horizon to be excited about, and the holiday box office on Broadway was definitely encouraging. But how are things going regionally? This week, Cara Joy David takes a look at some of the regional trends in ticket buying, and what bumpy waters might be ahead for these large regional companies. Additionally, stories of troubling trends on who is leaving the field - women of color leaving leadership posts, directors in the UK exiting the industry, and theaters adjusting their leadership models as they step into an unknown future. Click here to read more...

January 3, 2023 - Cara Joy David's Lessons for Theater in 2022

Happy New Year! Early reports indicate that last week was a good one for Broadway Box Offices, and here's a reminder that you can get up to date gross information on BroadwayWorld when the League releases their data, with that data sortable by various factors. With the year coming to a close last week, Cara Joy David offers her thoughts on a few of the lessons that the industry (hopefully) has learned from 2022. We also take a look at some of our regional critics favorite moments from last year. Click here to read more...

December 27, 2022 - NEA Sees Increased Funding, AEA and Broadway League Reach Agreement

Happy Holidays to all! As the year draws to a close, Cara Joy David offers us a preview of some of the decisions facing the Administration Committee of the Tony Awards in regards to the plays of this season. We've also got some good news out of Washington for the industry, as the NEA received increased funding in the most recent budget passed by Congress, a look at the uncertain future of Victory Gardens Theater, and a new 101 article exploring our observations on banner best practices for promoting shows. Click here to read more...

BroadwayWorld Resources

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