An Open Letter To LA Theatre Community

Last week New Musicals Inc. filed a charge against Actors Equity Association through the National Labor Relations Board.  The charge centers upon unfair business practices, accusing AEA of placing New Musicals Inc. on a “Do Not Work” list without cause.

Actors Equity Association is demanding that its members do not engage with NMI, threatening union members with penalties, sanctions and possible expulsion from the union.  By including NMI on a ‘Do Not Work’ list, we feel that AEA is attempting to cause NMI to discriminate against union members, encouraging them to refuse to perform any services for NMI, and requiring its members to cease doing business with NMI.

Actors Equity has contacted a number of actors appearing in NMI’s Fringe shows and threatened them with “disciplinary actions” which presumably includes fines, sanctions and even expulsion from the union.  It’s causing a lot of heartbreaking situations in which actors are being told not to appear in our presentations.  These are wonderful artists with a passion for new musicals, and for them to be frightened away because of their union is just unconscionable.

Our charges also include that Actors Equity Association’s inclusion of NMI on its “Do Not Work” list has resulted in damage to NMI, affecting its commerce, its public reputation, its standing in the Los Angeles theatre community, and its ability to fulfill its nonprofit mission.

As you know, many other membership companies in Los Angeles operate in a manner similar to our Academy Repertory Company, and they have not been placed on the ‘Do Not Work’ list.   We believe that NMI is being treated unfairly and in a manner different from other similar organizations.

You might recall from our previous Open Letter in January 2017 that AEA keeps saying that the reason we’re being denied status as a membership company is that we didn’t apply under the name of the Academy Repertory Company.  We don’t understand this.  Our application included “Academy Repertory Company” right alongside our other dba’s, including the Academy for New Musical Theatre and New Musicals Inc.  You might also recall from that we have requested meetings with AEA to discuss this situation on twelve separate occasions, and AEA has refused a meeting each time.  We don’t know why the union is refusing to meet with us to this clear up.  So we’ve turned to the NLRB for help.

The National Labor Relations Board has notified the union of the charges against it.  As we understand it, the next steps will be for the NLRB to collect affidavits from our staff and colleagues and gather evidence and corroboration of our charges, at which time we can expect either dismissal, settlement or a trial.  We’re hopeful that there will be a swift conclusion to this matter.  We feel we’ve been treated very unfairly, and the fact that Equity has refused to meet with us…well, that just seems wrong.

We reiterate that we cherish all the artists we work with:  writers, directors, music directors, stage managers, designers…and especially actors.  We welcome theatre artists of every variety, you are all always welcome at the Academy Repertory Company, New Musicals Inc, and the Academy for New Musical Theatre, whether or not you’re a member of a union.

We would welcome your support, comments, and reactions.  Post those in social media and send them to admin@nmi.org.  Let us know if you’d like your comments to be private.

In the meantime, NMI will continue its performances at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.  (Search for “1001 Minutes of New Musicals” — that’s us!)

Thank you as always.

 

Scott Guy, Executive Director

Elise Dewsberry, Artistic Director

John Sparks, Founding Director

New Musicals Inc.

Academy for New Musical Theatre

Academy Repertory Company

 

About Peter Finlayson

monsterid
Peter Finlayson is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-chief of FootLights magazine and footlight.click. While working on a prelaw program at the University of Michigan, he happily got involved with the theatre program. Much to his mother’s chagrin, law school never happened, but in a career spanning more than 4 decades, Peter has performed, directed or designed more than 150 productions. In his spare time, he is working on a new play. You can follow him on Twitter @Thtrdog .

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2 comments

  1. Pissed off Fringe producer

    The AEA has been a disaster for the Fringe. And they’ve been woefully unprepared and incredibly incompetent. They also have created a situation where it’s going to be simply a no-go hiring Equity actors for festival and short run, small theatre. They have no system set up to provide an offordable payroll solution, for new, first time and small productions and producers.
    And everytime you talk to them, they tell you something else.
    It’s truly a joke.

  2. Allison Bibicoff

    I fully support NMI, and I am furious that AEA is not only acting unfairly against NMI, but is also once again acting against the wishes of its members.

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