Actors’ Equity 2015 Membership by the Numbers

Actors’ Equity, the union for stage actors and managers, released some interesting membership data today.  According to their analysis:

“Over the [2005-2015] decade, paid membership has increased by almost 8%… The ten cities with the largest numbers of Equity members… comprised the same ten cities ten years ago, but Washington DC/Baltimore and Philadelphia have exchanged positions over the decade.  All ten cities have seen their populations of Equity members increase except for Los Angeles, but the city with the largest growth by far has been Washington DC/Baltimore where the member population has more than doubled.”

I’ve written before about how most of Equity’s members are concentrated in its two largest cities, New York and LA.  In fact, LA alone represents about 74% of the entire Western Region.  The really interesting story, however, is that from 2014 to 2015, Equity membership has dropped by a nearly 16% average across these ten cities.  That implies a true national trend.  When the official Equity data from the two most recent years are plotted against each other directly, a striking picture about the membership emerges.  In fact, while the Washington DC/Baltimore member population may have doubled in the past ten years, it shrank by 19%  over the previous year.

Significantly, New York lost more members (2860) in the previous year than the total membership of Chicago and San Francisco combined  (2557).

If Equity trumpets an 8% increase over a decade, what to make of a sharp 16% decrease over just a single year?

actors equity AEA membership footlights

Actors Equity membership drop percentage footlights

About Kevin Delin

Dr. Kevin Delin earned a PhD in physics from MIT, where he also studied writing under A.R. Gurney and Frank Conroy, and has patented technology at NASA. His adventures include inventing the future with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and solving national security issues with generals inside the Pentagon. Unable to convince backers to turn his textbook, Foundations of Applied Superconductivity, into the Broadway spectacular it merits, Kevin found other ways to mischief in the entertainment industry. In addition to his own writing, he professionally advises storytellers wanting to ground their work in science. He is a proud member of the Antaeus Playwrights Laboratory and his pieces on science, art, and society have bylines in American Theatre, LA Weekly, Script Magazine, Footlights, and Stage Raw. You can follow him on Twitter @kdelin and read him at

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