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  Season of Concern Gives $160,000 in Grants To People Living with HIV/AIDS

Season of Concern, the Chicagoland theatre community's fundraising effort to assist individuals living with HIV/AIDS, distributed over $161,000 in direct-care grants in 2003. This total includes grants to: The Actors' Fund; AIDSCare, Inc.; AIDS Legal Council; BEHIV, Better Existence Living with HIV; Biscotto-Miller Fund (internal fund of Season of Concern's for individuals in the performing arts community); Bonaventure House; C.A.L.O.R.; Chicago House; Chicago Women's AIDS Project; The Children's Place; DuPage County Health Department; Interfaith House; Lambda Legal Defense; New Phoenix Assistance Center; The Rafael Center, and Vital Bridges. Funded programs provide personal financial support, housing, meals, medications, legal assistance and a variety of other services in the Chicagoland and Midwest areas.

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  Actors’ Equity Protests Firing

Actors’ Equity has joined with Nathan Lane, Chita Rivera, Rosie O'Donnell, Bebe Neuwirth, Tony Kushner and others in the entertainment industry to protest Cirque du Soleil's firing of a gymnast for having HIV. Although the company's own doctors cleared him to safely perform, executives at Cirque du Soleil contend he posed a safety risk. Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people and people with HIV or AIDS, is leading the action.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE CONCERNING WORKPLACE INJURIES
Anyone who suffered a workplace injury or illness where the Workers' Comp insurance carrier was Reliance National Insurance should contact Valerie LaVarco at the New York Equity office: 212-869-8530. Reliance went into bankruptcy in April 2002 and the time limit for filing claims will expire in April 2004. Some injured Actors may not have received all compensation due them.

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  Outdoor Drama Contract Extended for One Year

Council has approved a one-year extension (with salary and health increases) for the Outdoor Drama Contract. The contract was due to expire on December 28, 2003. The agreement had previously been extended for the year in 2003 with a salary freeze and a $5 increase in the health rate. Active Outdoor Dramas, Tecumseh in the Eastern Region, Blue Jacket in Central Region, and Mountain Days in the Western Region, proposed the extension.

The three regional Stock Committees recommended that the agreement be extended for another year with a 2.3% increase in salaries and a 20% increase in the health rate, for a total increase in the combined financial package of 4%. Minimum weekly salary for Actors will be $610; Stage Managers: $725; Stage Manager in repertory, $768. Health contribution is $150, up from $125 last season.

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  Actors Equity staff update

Gary Dimon has come on board as the Business Representative for Developing Theatres; Joseph Johnson has joined the staff as Administrative Assistant to Guy Pace and Steve DiPaola; Deana Marie Kirsch, Business Representative, has taken over Dinner Theatre and Showcase from Cathy Bruce; Cathy Bruce, Business Representative, is now administering Production Contract Tours, formerly handled by Russell Lehrer; Russell Lehrer, Business Representative, takes over Eastern Stock and URTA from Marty McDonough; Marty McDonough has been assigned to special projects

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  Chicago Critics Review Non-Equity Tour of OLIVER! At Chicago’s CadillacTheatre, produced by NETworks

Chicago Tribune
Michael Phillips, January 30, 2004

"Consider yourself warned: Don't adopt dull "OLIVER!"

"Whatever the appeal of the most recent Cameron Mackintosh-produced London revival,...the appeal has deserted this pallid non-union touring edition."

"Cut corners without cutting admission prices, and suddenly you have a second-rate musical getting the third-rate treatment charging 72 bucks on the high end."

Chicago Sun Times
Hedy Weiss, February 1, 2004

“By watching the non-Equity touring company production of the show..you will have only the barest hint of why OLIVER! deserves to remain a landmark show.

Produced by Cameron Macintosh, this revival -which is only further hobbled by a reduced orchestra that often sounds tinny and disembodied-- resembles nothing so much as a college production.