The Los Angeles theater community had a tumultuous 2015 (detailed here), which culminated in a pending lawsuit against the union of professional actors and stage managers, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA). AEA and the Plaintiffs (who are all members of the Los Angeles theater community) are finally at the table, ready to work together to try to resolve this dispute. Make no mistake: any resolution reached here will set the course for intimate theater in our region for the next generation (and hopefully beyond). The importance of this moment cannot be overstated.
What is the “Save Our Intimate Theaters Legal Fund”?
It is a crowdsourced fund to pay legal expenses associated with the upcoming talks with Actors’ Equity Association. Plaintiffs have agreed to temporarily suspend their lawsuit against Actors Equity, so that both parties could meet to attempt resolution of their differences and craft a new plan for Los Angeles intimate theaters. We are raising funds to pay for a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion between AEA and the Plaintiffs, and to cover the legal fees that have been accruing throughout this process.
Where will the money go?
The money will be held in a trust account through the lead attorney, Steven Kaplan, and will be deducted as expenses incur. You can read more about Steven Kaplan here. You can read about our second lawyer, Martha Doty, here .
How will the money be spent?
The attorneys in the case have been very generous with their time and are either working pro bono or at a reduced rate, and for the most part, have deferred their pay so far. While some of the money will be used to reimburse those expenses, the first priority is to pay for a facilitator in the ongoing discussions.
How much money needs to be raised?
We are hoping to raise $75,000 towards this cause. We believe that to be a sufficient amount to cover the costs incurred to date and through the ongoing discussions between both parties.
Why is it so much money?
Intimate theater means a lot to us here in Los Angeles and is a vibrant part of the cultural landscape of this city. As theater artists, we seek to produce the highest quality work. If we do not come to an agreement, the entire ecosystem of our theaters could dissolve over a number of years. With such high stakes, we have sought out the highest quality professionals to assist us in our cause. They have been very generous with us, but as we all know, the legal system is an expensive process to navigate.
Why don’t the ‘celebrities’ just pay for it?
It is true that many of the advocates for intimate theater are actors with recognizable faces. In fact, many of those artists have already been very generous in promoting our cause, but this is a COMMUNITY effort and we all have something to lose. If you are passionate about intimate theater in Los Angeles, we are asking for your contribution. We can’t expect others to put in all of the work for us, and the vast majority of theater artists in Los Angeles don’t have recognizable names. The right dollar amount will be different for each of us, but we do need community-wide participation.
Is my contribution tax deductible?
Because the money is being used toward a legal case, your contribution is not tax deductible, and for tax purposes is considered a personal gift to the plaintiffs.
Who can contribute?
Anyone can! Whether you are a theater company, a member of Actors’ Equity, a theater artist, an audience member, or a passionate stakeholder of any kind, you are welcome to contribute to the cause of crafting a settlement between the parties that has the consensus and backing of the Los Angeles theater community.
What happens to any leftover money?
We don’t believe there will be any leftover money as the legal process is expensive. If we are able to raise more than we need, we will preserve the money until a final settlement is reached between the plaintiffs and AEA. At that time, and once all attorneys are paid in full, the plaintiffs in the case have pledged to put the money toward programs that promote intimate theater.
Is this all the money we will need?
We sincerely hope so, and are hopeful that an agreement can be reached during the discussions. If not, the lawsuit will proceed and we anticipate the costs of that to be far greater. The community is prepared to raise that money if such a step becomes necessary.
What do we hope will be achieved through these discussions?
We hope that the two parties can reach a settlement that has the backing and consensus of the Los Angeles theater community. Such an agreement would have the best interests of AEA members at heart, with the majority of members in support. It would have the backing of the vast majority of theater companies in Los Angeles, and allow for a healthy ecosystem that encourages growth, so that our intimate theater landscape can continue to thrive and survive for decades.
Who is ‘WE’?
This campaign was created by a small committee of dedicated Los Angeles theater artists at the behest of interested stakeholders that include both theater companies, plaintiffs in the case, and members of AEA. We ALL have a role to play and many individuals have been working hard over the last 12 months to make sure a new agreement is reached. Specifically, this campaign was created by Greg Crafts (member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, Dramatists Guild, TPLLA*, and Managing Director of Theatre Unleashed), James Esposito (member of TPLLA and Artistic Director of Chromolume Theatre), Lisa Glass (member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA), and Kevin Meoak (member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, TPLLA, and Managing Director of Loft Ensemble).
*Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles