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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Mucha

Actors' Equity Announces Open Access Plan!

The union announced a new plan to allow more actors and stage managers to join Equity

Earlier last week, Actors' Equity Association, AEA, announced a brand new plan called Open Access. Here's a pull from Equity's website regarding the plan:

"As the live arts industry begins to restart, and work increases as the pandemic diminishes, Actors’ Equity Association, the national union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has announced a new Open Access membership policy, allowing any theatre worker who can demonstrate they have worked professionally as an actor or stage manager within Equity’s geographical jurisdiction to join the union."

What do you think about the Open Access plan?

The Open Access plan will allow actors and stage managers who can prove they've worked professionally in their field to join AEA. Previously, you could only join the union through a sister-union, getting a certain number of EMC points or getting an Equity contract that would require you to join. This new policy is meant to open up the gates to people who wish to join the union, but for reasons such as lack of opportunity and lack of work, have not yet been able to.

President of AEA, Kate Shindle, said, “The old system had a significant flaw: It made employers the gatekeepers of Equity membership, with almost no other pathways to joining. The entertainment industry is disproportionately white, including and especially theatrical leadership. The union has inadvertently contributed to the systemic exclusion of BIPOC artists and others with marginalized identities by maintaining a system in which being hired to work those contracts was a prerequisite of membership. We hope that artists from all backgrounds will join us in building a union that uplifts the entire theatre community, especially those who have not felt included or welcome in the past.”

The Open Access plan has been met with mixed reviews from the community. Some praise it for allowing more people to join, while others think it will simply overcrowd and already cramped group. How will auditions be run now with such a larger pool of Equity members? What will happen to Non-Eq work? We'll have to wait and see.



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