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Equity Members Earn $256M

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Actors' Equity Association during its 2000-01 season saw a small membership gain and level earnings, despite a $10 million drop in Eastern regional earnings.

An economy racing toward a recession, plus the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 which stunned America, including tourism and Broadway-show attendance, added to Equity members income problems in the East. Eastern region earnings--which set a record of over $200 million in the '99-00 season, representing 78.4% of members earnings nationally--fell to $189.2 million (73.9%) this past year.

Still, the union membership overall saw total annual earnings increase from last season's $256.04 to this season's $256.07. That narrow rise resulted from jumps in earnings in the Central region from $22.3 million last year to $28.1 million this season, and the Western region's increase from $32.9 million to $38.7 million.

Nationally, the median annual earnings per member also remained above $6,000, although it dropped over the past year from $6,288 to $6,138.

Membership in all three regions increased, with the Eastern sector leading the way, rising from 23,728 to 24,220. Central membership grew from 3,131 to 3,199, and the Western region rose from 11,015 to 11,147.

Members working per year increased from 16,976 to 17,708. That means 45.9% of the union's 38,566 members were employed during the season. Working members per week also rose from 5,940 to 6,025.

Equity's production contract, its most lucrative pact which includes Broadway productions, brought in $118.9 million representing 46.4% of members' income. That's a drop of nearly $20 million over the '99-'00 figure of $137 million. The Eastern region logically carried the day there with $108 million. The average weekly salary under the production pact dropped $37 from last year's $1,887 to $1,850. Production contracts dropped from 3,865 to 3,522.

The League of Resident Theatres (LORT) pact ranked second in income at $48.2 million (18.8% of this year's total income), an increase over last year's $41 million (16%).

Developing theatre earned members $18.1 million (7.1%), up over last year's $15.9 million (6.2%).

Contracts for DisneyWorld in Orlando, Fla. brought in income of $11.9 million (4.7%).

Off-Broadway garnered $7.98 million (3.1%), up from last season's $6.9 million, while its contracts increased from 998 to 1,228.

Dinner theatre garnered $6.4 million (2.5%).

Union Finances

Equity's financial statement, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2001, showed an increase in unrestricted net assets of nearly $2 million over the previous year, rising from $25.2 million to $27.18 million.

Major revenues included working dues increasing from $5 million to $5.09 million; basic dues rising from $2.99 million to $3.03 million; and initiation fees up from $2.21 million to $2.26 million.

Net realized and unrealized gains from investments dropped $25,686 from last year's $1.53 million to $1.51 million this fiscal year.

The union saw expenses rise $719,219 from last year's $10.6 million to this year's $11.3 million. Half of those costs went to salaries and fringe benefits, with Equity paying $6.78 million this year compared to last year's $6.46 million.

Office expenses rose $145,583 from $1.8 million to $1.9 million. Member services increased from $456,791 to $509,598. Legal services rose from $233,961 to $256,839. Representative expenses increased from $284,045 to $377,511.

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