Actors' Equity Grants Dues Extension Amid Widespread Industry Unemployment

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The union, which represents actors and stage managers, has extended the traditional May deadline for spring dues to July 31.

Actors' Equity is joining the list of organizations that are extending payment due dates as the entertainment industry faces rising unemployment numbers amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The union, which represents over 51,000 actors and stage managers, has extended the traditional May deadline for spring dues to July 31. The National Council of the Actors' Equity Association, which made the decision, has also agreed to forgive some late payments: Belated payment of initiation fees and dues will, starting April 1, be forgiven until Nov. 30. Spring dues are $87.

“I hope that Council’s changes will help relieve some of the burden on our members while the entire industry is essentially closed for business,” president of the Actors’ Equity Association Kate Shindle said Friday in a statement. “That said, it is incredibly important that anyone who can pay their basic dues does so as soon as possible — whether wholly or partially — to keep the union strong and help preserve our core functions. Paying what you can will enable us to advocate for actors and stage managers right now in Congress. It will also reinforce our ability to continue negotiations with employers regarding current settlements, as well as when the industry restarts production.”

The shift marks the latest way that the organization is looking to provide financial relief to members: On March 24, the organization launched an emergency fund to support actors in financial distress amid the coronavirus outbreak and has also waived its most recent quarterly premium for healthcare coverage. And it follows in the wake of similar measures taken by fellow actors union SAG-AFTRA, which extended its dues deadline and implemented a policy allowing members to pay in installments.

Given that Actors' Equity is supported by taking a percentage of members' earnings under Actors' Equity contracts and annual dues, it is asking members who can pay their dues on time to do so in order to keep the union up and running.

While comprehensive numbers on entertainment unemployment have yet to be released, the labor union IATSE estimated on March 18 that, up to that point, 120,000 members' jobs had been lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. Companies including Disney, National Cinemedia, AMC Theatres and Cinemark, among others, have furloughed workers, while Paradigm, Lionsgate Film Group and Panavision have had or are planning layoffs.