Hollywood Chamber of Commerce denounces AEA’s 99 seat theatre proposal

Hollywood’s intimate theater community is threatened by Equity’s proposal.

Read the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce letter to Actors’ Equity Association’s Executive Director Mary McColl and President Nick Wyman below:

Damage done to the businesses of Hollywood and LA County would be extensive.

Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Letter to AEA

Dear Ms. McColl and Mr. Wyman:

On behalf of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its nearly 900 members in the Hollywood area, I am writing to express the Chamber’s opposition to the Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) proposal to require actors be paid a minimum wage ($9 an hour in L.A. County) for rehearsal and performances. While the Hollywood Chamber itself has no vote in the matter, our member business organizations (including many small theaters) will nonetheless bear the brunt of the consequences.

As you may know, Hollywood’s Theater Row is the home of 13 theatre venues and their collective 25 stages that have been producing live theatre in Hollywood since the 1940s. Hollywood Theater Row is the backbone of a thriving economic and entertainment community and has been a home for thousands of entertainment artists who have plied their trade to an eager audience of millions of Angelenos. In fact, two of the Theater Row stages were built by Charlie Chaplin in 1946.

The Hollywood Chamber knows the very thin margin that the small theaters of Hollywood (and all of Los Angeles) operate on.   Keeping the doors open for these venues requires constant fundraising, grant writing and, volunteerism. If the AEA proposal moves forward these smaller venues will not survive.  The damage that would be done to the businesses of Hollywood and LA County would be extensive.

Devastation to the local economy would be extremely significant

If the minimum wage proposal goes forward, and many theatres close, what happens to the ancillary businesses near them? What happens when those businesses are laying off employees because that next-door restaurant lost 40% of its business? We know what happens…those businesses close too.  The Otis report tells us that for every dollar spent at a local theatre in Southern California, $7 to $12 are spent in the surrounding community. Simple math tells us the loss to the local economy would be, as the LA Drama Critics Circle has stated, “catastrophic.”

In order to save millions of dollars from leaving the local economy, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce asks that Actors Equity Association come to the table to discuss changes to the Intimate Theatre landscape of Los Angeles with all interested parties and stop any movement on their current “promulgated” proposal.

While on the surface, this is a battle between a labor union and its members, which we hesitate to comment on, the economic devastation to the local economy if AEA unilaterally makes these changes would be extremely significant.  Given the important historic and cultural significance of Hollywood Theater Row and the overall LA small theater scene, we ask that you do all you can to ensure that LA’s intimate theater community remains vibrant and thriving.  Please stop your plans for a mandatory minimum wage for our small theaters.

Sincerely,

Leron Gubler
President & CEO
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

DOWNLOAD a .pdf of the Chamber letter HERE.

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Download the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Letter to AEA