Updates: The Business of Broadway -December 2020

December, 2020

Chapter 10: Producers / Chapter 12: Surprises

Dr. Anthony Fauci (respected spokesperson on national health protocols) in an interview with WNBC on December 1, said if people get vaccinated in the spring as the vaccine becomes available to the general public, New Yorkers and the entire country could get back to normal by the end of summer or beginning of fall 2021.  

Chapter 15: Actors

Backstage Magazine reports: “According to Actors’ Equity Association, “Hamilton” has led to a sizable increase in jobs for actors of color. This is one of the findings in Equity’s second ever diversity report … from 2016 to 2019 … contracts for BIPOC actors increased, from 15.3% to 23.3%. … White actors were represented 63.95% of the time. … In terms of gender, contracts for women increased from 43.5% to 44.9%, so more contracts still go to men (51.42%). Barely 1% of all contracts went to Equity members with a disability.”

Chapter 15: Actors

November 14: Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA reached an agreement over coverage of streamed and recorded theater. The new agreement states that during the pandemic (ending Dec 31, 2021) Actors’ Equity may sign contracts with theaters for recorded live theater and readings, so long as the work appears on restricted viewing platforms and has limits on the audience size.

The two unions reached an agreement through mediation after a bitter and public dispute. Equity had accused SAG-AFTRA of taking over its traditional contracts with theaters and negotiating lower-paying deals for streaming work. SAG-AFTRA said that any work made for broadcast fell under its jurisdiction.

Per the pandemic agreement, Equity has jurisdiction if the work will be exhibited on a platform that is only available to ticket holders or subscribers of the theater. SAG-AFTRA continues to have purview over work that is exhibited on paid streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney+.

The digital audience for the streamed or recorded work cannot exceed 200% of the size of the theater over the course of the run of the production, or 300% in theaters with fewer than 350 seats. It may only remain on the platform for three months or less.

The work under Equity contracts may include live readings, staged readings, live theater and “other performances in the general nature of theater,” according to the agreement. During the pandemic, SAG-AFTRA pledged to refer work of that nature to Equity.

Chapter 22: Theatre Owners  

The word around Broadway is that there are dozens of “committees” researching technology, hygenic safety protocols, stealing ideas from South Korea’s successful opening of theatres and London’s failed attempts at keeping theatres open. For the past 4 months, audience research shows consistently that only 41% of the sample is willing to return to Broadway with safety protocols, but that 90% are anxious to return once a vaccine and protocols are in place.

Producers have been announcing agreements to move into a Broadway theatre without any evidence of such agreements, and without naming the theatre or dates. This usually means that they are actively trying to raise money and have to get their investment base excited with the news that they “have a theatre.”