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

Kevin Delin is a Los Angeles-based writer and scientist. He has 4 degrees from MIT, including a PhD in physics, and co-authored Foundations of Applied Superconductivity, a popular internationally-used textbook on superconductivity. While at MIT, he also took writing courses from author Frank Conroy, poet Stephen Tapscott, and playwright A.R. Gurney, the latter becoming a life-long mentor. After a post-graduate stretch in Silicon Valley, he worked at NASA where he invented and patented the Sensor Web, a unique wireless sensor system suitable for Mars (and Earth). Kevin is also a member of the Antaeus Theatre Company Playwrights Lab. His numerous pieces on art and society have bylines in American Theatre, LA Weekly, Script Magazine, Footlights, and Stage Raw. His adventures include deploying his technology with firefighters in first response operations, inventing the future with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, and solving national security issues with generals inside the Pentagon. He’s the recipient of the prestigious NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and, drawing from his extensive tech background, professionally advises storytellers who want to ground their work in science. He tweets at @kdelin and his stage plays can be found on the New Play Exchange. His other writings are at

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