Actors’ Equity Union Goes on Strike Over Developmental Contracts

“We never wanted it to come to this,” Equity’s negotiating team chair says as Broadway League talks stall

Actors Equity President Brooke Shields attends the 2024 Drama Desk Awards in New York City (Credit: Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)
Actors Equity President Brooke Shields attends the 2024 Drama Desk Awards in New York City (Credit: Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)

The Actors’ Equity Association will cease issuing contracts on developing live theatre work after negotiations for a new contract stalled.

Equity and the Broadway League began negotiations on a new contract for the Development Agreement at the end of January and the current agreement expired on February 11. The talks broke down following “unacceptable” wage package offers according to a statement released by Equity Negotiating Team chair Stephen Bogardus.

“We never wanted it to come to this, but the wage package put across the table by the Broadway League was just plain unacceptable. Our members cannot afford to work on this contract at the proposed compensation levels over the next five years,” Bogardus said on Monday. “Five years ago, we ceased development work to get the Broadway League to acknowledge the work our members provide in the development of new work for the Broadway arena. Five years later, we are forced to do it again. We look forward to the day we can return to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair wage on this agreement that meets our stage managers’ and actors’ needs. We are ready whenever the League is.”

The labor union represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers in the live theater space.

The Development Agreement was created back in 2019 and is used in the development of new works by the League. It came about after the last strike with the League lasted 33 days and ensured that actors and stage managers would share in the success of a production through contingent compensation.

Some of the shows that benefitted from the Development Agreement in the past year include: “Days of Wine and Roses,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Gutenberg! The Musical!,” “Harmony,” “The Heart of Rock and Roll,” “How to Dance in Ohio,” “Lempicka,” “The Notebook,” “Once Upon a One More Time,” “The Outsiders,” “Suffs,” “Water for Elephants” and “The Wiz.”

The strike comes less than a month after Brooke Shields was elected as the president of Actors’ Equity.

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