Earnings, weeks rise for Equity members

Annual profits top $244 mil

NEW YORK — Actors’ Equity achieved some all-time employment highs during the 1998-99 season.

Alan Eisenberg, executive director of the union, reported that workweeks were in excess of 287,000, setting a new high for the fourth-consecutive year, while annual earnings topped $244 million, another record.

According to the union’s annual report released Monday, thesp employment during the past season jumped 5.3% over the previous session, despite a 3% drop in the number of production-contract (Broadway and the road) workweeks, which numbered 80,548 in 1998-99 and 82,965 in 1997-98.

An increase of 6% was recorded in the not-for-profit LORT (League of Regional Theatres) arena, which saw 54,645 workweeks, up from 51,532 in the season before.

Generally, the highest salaries are earned under the production contract, and as the Equity report makes clear, “A small dip in this area can have major repercussions.” At present, the weekly minimum salary for an actor under the production contract is $1,180, and $1,931 for a stage manager working in a musical. Stage managers, like thesps, are members of Actors’ Equity.

Watching LORT

As for the increase in employment under the LORT contract, Eisenberg said: “I don’t know if it is a trend. They’re adjusting to the new ways of funding. It would be nice if they came back some more, and I’m optimistic there.”

Ten years ago, LORT had a much higher number of workweeks — 62,397 — while the production-contract tallies scored significantly fewer, at 47,059.

With a total number of 37,936 members in good standing with Actors Equity, 16,340 of them — 43.1% –worked during the year for an average of 17.6 weeks; The average number of members who worked each week stood at 5,802.

The report was compiled by Guy Pace, Equity’s assistant executive director of national administration and finance.

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