NEW YORK CITY: The Off-Broadway League and United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 IATSE have negotiated the first contract for designers and craftspeople working Off Broadway. The organizations are calling the deal “historic” because it will set standard pay rates and workplace rules for these workers. The deal was reached on March 4. Details about rates and rules were not made publicly available.
“This negotiation was both historic and a true example of what the process should be: the two sides came together and through consideration of the needs of both labor and management, created an agreement that will form the basis for what we hope is a long and mutually beneficial working relationship,” said Cecilia Friederichs, national business agent, United Scenic Artists Local USA 829, in a statement.
The contract will go into effect in July 2017 and will be valid for three years. The details, to be announced at a later date, will include a three-tier minimum fee structure: large not-for-profits (the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizon, etc.), small not-for-profits (Vineyard Theatre, the New Group, Ars Nova, etc.), and commercial productions. The contract also includes stipulations on subsequent use of designs, use of designs in media, billing requirements, and basic workplace conditions. Previously these terms, including fees, would be negotiated individually between a designer and a theatre in what was called a “project only agreement.”
“Off-Broadway has always been a champion of artists and their work,” said Adam Hess, president of the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers, in a statement. “These productions could not happen without the contributions of the talented designers of USA. The Off-Broadway League is very grateful to USA for a successful negotiation fueled by mutual respect and a desire to work together to find creative solutions to the economic challenges facing our community. We hope this new agreement will foster more opportunities for our artists in the Off-Broadway community and beyond.”
United Scenic Artists represents designers, artists, and craftspeople working in film,theatre, opera, ballet, television, industrial shows, commercials, and exhibitions. Its current active membership totals just over 4,300.