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Actors’ Equity Association is considering a name change.
The union said Thursday that it is seeking proposals for a potential new name and rebranding that would demonstrate that it also represents stage managers and other performers, in addition to actors. The proposal comes after Equity’s national council voted to adopt the resolution at the union’s 2021 convention, following years of organizing among stage managers.
Actors’ Equity was founded in 1913 and came into greater prominence in 1919, when its members went on a 30-day strike over working conditions for actors. Until 1920, actors had often acted as stage managers, but that year became a distinct category within Actors’ Equity contracts. Stage managers are recognized as members of the union, but not represented within the name. (Actors’ Equity and Chorus Equity, a union for chorus performers which was formed after strike, merged in 1955, which brought chorus actors into the fold.)
“The current name perpetuates a broad misunderstanding that Stage Managers are not members of our union,” the union wrote in its resolution.
While the original resolution was aimed at including stage managers, the union also noted that its membership has now broadened even further, after trying to organize dancers at North Hollywood’s Star Garden Topless Dive Bar and other performers. In total, Actors’ Equity has more than 51,000 members.
“Subsequent to the adoption of this policy, the union adopted a more aggressive approach to organizing new members, working with strippers, planetarium lecturers and others who work in live arts and entertainment, further widening the tent of Equity membership,” the union wrote in its resolution.
After passing the resolution in 2021, the union was given three years to create a working group and put forth a plan for the name change.
Actors’ Equity is now requesting agency proposals and will look for a vendor to help the union’s working group in “assessing name-change readiness” and deciding on a new name. If the union moves forward with a new name, the agency would help develop new brands and taglines.
After soliciting proposals, due March 15, 2023, Actors’ Equity expects to award an agency with the project on April 28, 2023. Work is expected to begin in May 2023 and continue into 2024.
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