Los Angeles is about to lose a part of its cultural infrastructure

99-or-die

Yes, this is a dramatic image. But we are talking about the THEATER here.
The very reason so many of us get up in the morning.

December 13 was the last day of small theater in Los Angeles as we’ve known it for the last three decades. 

Yes that is a dramatic statement. But sadly, it’s TRUE.

“It doesn’t feel like a big deal because there are no front page stories, even on the art section because, let’s face it, there is no art section. There is no rally in the streets by the theater community. There is no city-wide campaign of support for these actors. But it is a big deal, Los Angeles is about to lose a part of its cultural infrastructure: less theater, less art, less community . . . and that’s a tragedy.” – Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW ► READ MORE

“December 14 is the day that the stage actors’ union, Actors Equity, implements a plan that will certainly decimate the Los Angeles theater scene, and will hit especially hard the most vulnerable – minority, women-centered and LGBT communities…. Theater has long served to bring a voice to the powerless, and nowhere more than in the small fringe movements that have sprung up from the fearlessness and dedication of underrepresented communities. In one fell swoop, and with little regard for their membership, Actors Equity has muzzled the voices of the many artists who speak truth to power, and joined the ranks of those who would rob them – and the audiences they serve – of their hopes and dreams.
It is indeed a sad day in LA.”  – Hoyt Hilsman for Huffington Post ► READ MORE

“Perhaps the most important opportunities provided by the now bludgeoned 99-Seat Plan was the quality of the local culture for the audiences who attended the tens of thousands of performances staged here over the decades. The number and quality of those performances will now inevitably be diminished… In this Brave New World, when the U.S. President-elect is already attacking union leaders and unionism in general, Actors’ Equity Association, with its inimitable lack of foresight, flexibility and empathy, couldn’t have found a more impolitic time to enrage its own membership in its second largest market.” – Steven Leigh Morris for This Stage.LA Magazine ► READ MORE

December 14th Press Release:

Members of L.A.’s “Pro99” theater community continue to gather signatures to demand a new referendum on Actors’ Equity’s 99-Seat Theater Plan, which is scheduled to end today.

READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE

SIGN the referendum

“Our community is united. We will prevail.” – Members of Pro99

Court case brought by Los Angeles actors against AEA is dismissed

 

case-dismissed

Judge Hatter has dismissed, without prejudice, the lawsuit brought against Actors Equity by Los Angeles area actors.

But the plaintiffs announced that they will continue to fight for the survival of the 99-seat theater system.

YOUR SIGNATURE IS NEEDED – please sign the petition for a new referendum to bring AEA back to the table.

More info and links to original documents can be found on FOOTLIGHTS and STAGE RAW.

Actors’ Equity counters with motion to dismiss 99-Seat lawsuit

The court will have to decide …

Following the LA actors serving a lawsuit on their union, Actors’ Equity, the Union has countered with a motion to dismiss that lawsuit.

You can read some key reasons Equity is arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed, as well as the full text (all 150 pages) of their motion.

Click ► HERE for the full article by KEVIN DELIN on FOOTLIGHTS

Lawsuit filed against Actors’ Equity Association and Mary McColl

Lawsuit Against Actors Equity Association Filed
 

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 17, 2015) — Actors and other members of the Los Angeles theatrical community (Ed Asner, Tom Bower, Gregg Daniel, John Flynn, Maria Gobetti, Gary Grossman, Ed Harris, Salome Jens, Veralyn Jones, Karen Kondazian, Simon Levy, Amy Madigan, Tom Ormeny, Lawrence Pressman, Michael Shepperd, Joseph Stern, French Stewart, and Vanessa Stewart) filed a lawsuit today against Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers and Mary McColl, AEA Executive Director. The lawsuit challenges the Union’s decision to eliminate its 25-year-old waiver of jurisdiction over small 99-seat theaters, a program popularly known as Equity Waiver. Plaintiffs claim that the Union’s decision to end Equity Waiver will unfairly destroy small theater in Los Angeles and deprive thousands of actors of opportunities to collaborate on creative theatrical projects.

The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles federal court. The plaintiffs are Los Angeles-based members of Equity, together with other theatrical artists and theater operators who had entered into a litigation Settlement Agreement with the Union in 1989 that established a system for regulating future changes to the Equity Waiver program.

The lawsuit alleges that the stage actors’ union violated this Settlement Agreement by improperly interfering with the democratic and due process procedures established in the Agreement to prevent any unilateral Union decision to eliminate the world of intimate theater. The lawsuit complains that Equity’s new rules, including a prohibition on volunteer acting at small theaters and a new wage compensation obligation on these theaters, will force theaters to close, reduce their production runs, or to hire non-union volunteer actors in place of Union actors.

The plaintiffs announced that they would not serve the Complaint on the Union immediately, in the hope that the Union would respond to their request to meet and confer about a mutually acceptable resolution of the small theater controversy.

“Although we have now filed the complaint, we have not yet served it on the Union,” stated Steven Kaplan, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “We have asked the Union to take this opportunity to avoid the time, expense and acrimony of litigation, and sit down with its members to discuss a mutually advantageous resolution.”

Gary Grossman, a member of Equity and one of the plaintiffs in the 1989 litigation, stated that “This lawsuit became necessary because Equity refused to comply with the preliminary procedural protections built into our 1989 Settlement Agreement. These procedural protections were designed to ensure that, before substantial changes were made to the 99-Seat Theater Plan, meaningful discussions would take place within the small theater community.”

Actor Michael A. Shepperd, also a plaintiff, said, “Our members voted to reject the Union’s actions by a 2-1 margin in one of the largest election turnouts in the organization’s history. We are terribly disappointed that our Union rejected the principle of democracy on which it was founded, and foisted on Union members new rules that will harm all actors in the long run.”

Actress Karen Kondazian, another plaintiff, explained that “the majority of Los Angeles artists who work in small theaters want Equity to put a moratorium on these new plans in order for local members’ voices to be adequately and fairly heard, and for the Union to work together with a task force of local theater artists to develop a comprehensive plan that will adequately address the needs of the Los Angeles theater community. But our leadership turned a deaf ear to our concerns.”

Actor French Stewart, another plaintiff, lamented that “we would hate to see either the death of intimate theater or the world of small theater go non-union. Equity’s decision was short-sighted and likely will contribute to an erosion of unionized acting in Los Angeles.”

Plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of Steven J. Kaplan and Martha Doty of Alston & Bird.

StageRaw has posted the full complaint HERE