Compiled by Behnoosh Khalili
Equity provides a number of contracts designed with specific types of theatre operations in mind. There are 27 contracts, each with its own work rules, and several of these contracts are tiered according to the number of the seats in the house and the budget of the theatre. If you have a question about a contract, call the union, (323) 634-1750, and you will be directed to one of the five business representatives who handles that specific contract. Please know which contract you are inquiring about before you call so that you can be served in a timely manner.
To help you get started, here's a breakdown of the most widely used contracts with minimum weekly salary requirements for actors.
Production: Mainly used for Broadway, national tours, and bus-and-truck companies. Salary minimum is $1,135.
League of Resident Theatres (LORT): The standard contract for regional theatres across the country.
There are five tiers:
A $647 min.
B+ $619 min.
B $594 min.
C $560 min.
D $459 min.
Western Regional Community Non-Profit Musical Theatre (WCLO): Strictly for theatres that do musical seasons. Salary minimum is $690.
Hollywood Area Theatre (HAT):
D (0-199 seats)
C (200-299 seats)
B (300-399 seats)
A (400-499 seats)
Pay scale: $260 min. and up, based on weekly grosses and size of house.
Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA): A contract for companies of adults performing theatre for youth, including touring and resident companies. Salary is $315 weekly min. or $47.50 to $62.50 a performance.
Dinner Theatre (DT): Individually negotiated contracts with six tiers:
Tier 1 $303 min.
Tier 2 $327 min.
Tier 3 $375 min.
Tier 4 $417 min.
Tier 5 $460 min.
Tier 6 $478 min.
Small Professional Theatre (SPT): These are experimental contracts for cities in which there are existing pools of Equity members and area liaisons. Contracts are negotiated individually, with a salary scale from $140 based on weekly grosses. Maximum house size is 420.
Letter of Agreement (LOA): This contract was formed to help small companies that can't afford standard Equity contracts. LOA contracts are negotiated with individual theatres with Equity and reviewed every year. In most cases, they are referenced to an existing Equity contract with the intention of eventually moving into that contract. Salaries vary and are negotiated with the individual company.
Guest Artist (GA): This is designed mainly for nonprofit organizations, such as colleges and universities or community theatres, to bring in an Equity member for a particular role in a production. Pay scales, based on size of house and number of performances, are at $420, $330, and $250.
General Contract Rules
1. Minimum salary. Performers under Equity contracts cannot be paid less than the established minimum salary under that contract. Most contracts provide a minimum salary during the rehearsal period and a contractual salary during all performance weeks, although some, including LORT, provide for a contractual salary from the first day of rehearsal.
2. Additional duties pay. All Equity contracts include provisions for overtime pay for work extending beyond specified hours. The contracts also provide additional pay for additional work assignments, such as dance captain, accepting an extra role or understudy assignment, extraordinary risk, or doing a chorus part in a musical.
3. Pension and Health Benefits. All contracts require the producer to contribute to the Pension Fund on behalf of the performer. Most contracts also require the producer to pay contributions to the Health Fund.
4. Workers' Compensation and Unemployment. All Equity contracts provide for Workers' Comp unless the performer is providing services as a corporation. Depending on state requirements, Equity members may be covered for unemployment insurance.
5. Audio- and videotaping. All contracts prohibit the filming or taping of any portion of the show without specific written permission of Equity unless contract sets specific conditions (i.e., newscast tapings and commercials). Check individual contracts for what kinds of recordings are permitted and whether payments are required.
6. Work rules. All contracts limit the number of hours of work per day and per week as well as when breaks must occur. They also provide for basic safe and sanitary conditions under which to work.
7. Bonding. All producers must post a security bond with Equity to ensure that salaries and benefits will be paid even if the producer is unable or unwilling to pay. The amount of security usually covers at least two weeks of contractual salary and benefits for every Equity member under contract.
8. Housing and transportation. Most contracts provide for housing and round-trip transportation for out-of-town actors.
All employment contracts are individually reviewed by Equity staff members and must be filed immediately with the appropriate regional office upon receipt of signatures. Contracts must be made available to performers at or before the first rehearsal. All provisions must be in writing and must be properly executed with dated signatures from the performer and the producer. All contracts must be on forms provided by Equity. And finally, never begin rehearsal without benefit of contract. It is your only protection.