Lights Are Shining Off Broadway

802 Announces New Area Standards

Volume CIV, No. 12December, 2004

Mary Donovan

For the first time ever, musicians who work Off Broadway will have consistent standards.

Local 802 has produced a booklet of wages, benefits and work rules for commercial productions in Off Broadway theatres.

Musicians who already work on Broadway know that their wages and benefits are guaranteed under the master agreement between the League and Local 802.

But for many years, these guarantees did not exist for Off Broadway musicians.

Instead, the union has been organizing Off Broadway on a show-by-show basis. While Local 802 has sought consistency, there were no official standards.

Then, last year, Local 802 was able to organize several nonprofit Off Broadway producers into agreeing on new rates for their productions. However, these rates were only for the nonprofit theatres who had signed the agreement. They did not apply to commercial productions.

Now, all Off Broadway musicians working in commercial productions — the majority of Off Broadway — will enjoy new standards.


The union basically defines commercial Off Broadway as productions in any theatre between 100 and 499 seats being produced by an employer seeking to make a profit.

The new standards are laid out in a handbook and contract, so that any employer who accepts the terms and conditions may become a signatory simply by signing copies of the booklet. The booklet can also be customized to specify the particulars of an individual production.

“Our new Off Broadway standards save time for both the union and employers,” said 802 President David Lennon. “Rather than negotiate each fine point, the standards are a quick template. Producers can use these standards to budget for their shows ahead of time. Local 802 members should know this: Off Broadway can be union and is union.”


The new Off Broadway standards were born from a recent two-year agreement with the Dodgers.

As mentioned in the November issue of Allegro, the union negotiated an agreement with Dodger Stage Holding Theatricals for their production of “Bare: A Pop Opera.”

The Dodgers agreed that the contract for “Bare…” would become the template for producers leasing out theatre space from them. The Dodgers have five theatres in their new space.

Out of this came the idea that these standards could and should be made available to other Off Broadway employers.

As a result, Local 802 now has two new employers utilizing the standards as their agreement.

Hello Entertainment (Frank Scardina, general manager) is producing “The Immigrant” at Dodger Stages and Jill Bowman is producing the commercial extension of “Lone Star Love” at the John Houseman Theatre.


Local 802’s fight to win a master Off Broadway contract is not over. For the time being, even with the new standards, individual negotiations still have to take place for each production.

However, making the area standards readily available in a simple handbook will help ensure that both employers and members will accept them as the norm for Off Broadway.

The standards also contain the famous ban on the virtual orchestra machine. Local 802 was the first union in the world to negotiate this ban, and it has become a standard bearer in the union’s continuing fight to keep the music live!

The Off Broadway standards may be requested from the Theatre Department. Producers or musicians should call Mary Donovan at (212) 245-4802, ext. 156.