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    Posted July 28, 2007

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AEA, Buffalo Studio Arena Settle Dispute

Equity Reaches Agreement With Studio Arena Theatre for BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL and MOCKINGBIRD

Equity has reached an agreement with Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, New York to put the theatre's co-presentations of BAT BOY THE MUSICAL and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD under Union contract.

A dispute arose when Studio Arena, one of the oldest resident theatres in the nation, made co-presenting arrangements with two local area theatres to mount MusicalFare's BAT BOY and The Road Less Traveled production of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD as part of its season. Studio Arena management did not contact Equity about the arrangement. Believing it to be a violation of the LORT agreement, Equity filed for arbitration.

News items and casting notices indicated the shows, which would be non-Equity, would be co-produced with Studio Arena. The situation heated up when it was rumored that Kathleen Gaffney, Studio Arena Artistic Director, explained that the presenting arrangement was the result of pressure from funding sources. According to a story in the Buffalo News dated June 20, 2007, "…Gaffney strongly denied the possibility that the shows would be canceled or replaced, regardless of actions or statements from the League of Resident Theatres, Actors' Equity or any other body."

Harry Weintraub, the attorney for LORT, and Equity Senior Business Rep Zalina Hoosein entered into negotiations in an effort to avoid arbitration and find a fair and equitable settlement for both parties. The resulting agreement reached for both productions calls for LORT D minimum weekly salaries of $544 plus health and pension payments. Studio Arena operates under the LORT B category.

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