Thanks to a milestone agreement struck on Friday, Broadway actors now have a right to share in a fraction of the profits from successful productions.
The deal between Actors’ Equity, made up of more than 51,000 theater workers and stage managers, and The Broadway League, a trade association for prominent producers, puts an end to a 33-day strike. Actors’ Equity had barred members from participating in The Broadway League’s lab sessions until a profit-sharing agreement could be reached, arguing that theater performers and stage managers are vital to a show’s development and should be compensated based on the show’s overall success.
As a result of the new 10-year contract, that restriction will be lifted and both theater performers and stage managers will be eligible to split 1 percent of future show profits, provided the show has already surpassed its initial investment. The deal also includes stipulations for several raises over five years and a minimum of five weeks rehearsal time for new Broadway productions.
“This new agreement amounts to a landmark moment in the evolution of commercial theater development, ensuring that actors and stage managers will share in the success of a Broadway show when it becomes a hit,” said Kate Shindle, Actors’ Equity president, in a statement. “We’re also thrilled that Equity members will immediately see a significant increase in their weekly salaries as soon as everybody goes back to work.”
The Broadway League also said it was excited to put an end to the disagreement. The association joins the ranks of productions like “Mean Girls” and “Frozen on Broadway,” which already had profit-sharing agreements with actors who attended development sessions, according to Equity.
“We are happy that we were able to successfully restructure the previous pre-production agreements,” Charlotte St. Martin, the association president, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that our producers can now go back to the important work of developing the best theatre in the world.”
The agreement is a significant coup for actors, who have long contributed ideas to lab sessions when originating a new role. Many argued that they weren’t being adequately compensated for that extra involvement in the development of a production, especially as 2018 proved to be one of the best years for Broadway on record. Fueled by “Hamilton,” “The Cursed Child” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” productions raked in a cool $1.7 billion in 2018, up from $1.45 billion in 2017.
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