Talks With Off-Broadway Producers Break Off

Volume CII, No. 9September, 2002

Talks between Local 802 and the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers, Inc., have broken off without an agreement or any prospect of an industry-wide contract covering this area of work. The union will continue to negotiate show-by-show contracts in the Off-Broadway field, as it has for more than 15 years.

As Allegro goes to press, the union is notifying all musicians employed in the field, including those who do music preparation work, that all work in this area must be done under union agreements. Members who are contacted about any Off-Broadway employment are required to inform the union’s Theatre Department before any work is performed and to cooperate in efforts to achieve a union agreement covering the production.

“It is unfortunate that these talks were not more productive,” Local 802 President Bill Moriarity told Allegro. “We had hoped for an agreement that would both standardize our members’ compensation levels in this field and make the producers’ budgeting process more predictable. Unfortunately, that will not happen.”

One of the sticking points was music preparation scales. The Off-Broadway producers continued to argue for more than a 50 percent reduction in the rates for orchestrating, arranging and music copying. While the union was willing to discuss substantial reductions from the rates currently paid on Broadway, the two sides remained far apart.

Moriarity said, “At least part of the reason these talks failed is that Off-Broadway continues to feel the after-effects of 9/11. If musicals of any size are to continue to be produced Off-Broadway this field needs a larger and more stable flow of funding, particularly for its nonprofit side. I believe it is unfair to continue to ask musicians and other workers to subsidize this part of the theatre business.”

In the absence of an industry-wide contract, Off-Broadway will continue to be handled through collectively bargained agreements with individual theatre companies or on a show-by-show basis with individual producers. Thirteen Off-Broadway musicals are currently being done under union agreements. Over the last six months, while the Off-Broadway talks were taking place, the union reached agreements covering Menopause The Musical at Theatre Four, Vienna Lusthaus at New York Theatre Workshop, The Prince and the Pauper at The Lamb’s Theatre, The Last Five Years and Thunder Knocking on the Door at the Minetta Lane Theatre, a workshop of The Little Princess at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Call the Children Home at Primary Stages and Little Ham at the John Houseman Theatre.

If you are contacted for work on any theatre project – reading, workshop or Off-Broadway production – call the Local 802 Theatre Department immediately, at (212) 245-4802.