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    Posted February 18, 2010

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Dallas - Ft Worth AEA Members Meet

By Dennis Yslas and Pam Dougherty
Dallas-Ft Worth Area Liaison Committee


Sue Birch (Theatre Britain), and committee members Sharon Garrisoni, Connie Coit and Pam Dougherty, Elly Lindsay

On February 1, about 30 members from the Dallas Fort Worth area joined Western Regional Director Mary Lou Westerfield and AEA Business Rep Timothy Smith at our annual meeting the KD Studio theater space of Uptown Players. We opened with a brief moment to honor the memory of several beloved theatre community members lost in 2009. Then Area Liaison Pam Dougherty announced the agenda, and Mary Lou took the floor to share news from across the country. She updated the group on LORT negotiations, talked about how the economy has affected theatres across the country, and related specific examples (e.g., Las Vegas' PHANTOM, LORT wage freeze) of how Equity has worked with struggling producers to help them continue to hire AEA members.

When the floor opened up for discussion, a lively debate centered on the issue of our Umbrella theaters, the length of time that they've used the agreement, and whether or not it's time for some of them to "grow up" to regular SPT contracts with AEA. Many in the group concurred that some sort of "clock" needs to be inserted into the agreement in order to make sure our members share in the benefits when a theater grows. Some members expressed the belief that some of our older and more established Umbrella theaters could in fact support a regular, albeit small, SPT agreement.


Kevin Keating (background), Connie Coit, Ada Lynn, Pam Dougherty, Elly Lindsay

Timothy Smith explained some of the problems the theaters face as they expand - learning to budget wisely, managing uneven income from year to year, moving from unpaid to paid staff, etc. He also explained how staff has to negotiate the unique needs of individual theaters, while keeping the playing field level with other area producers.

By group acclamation, two committee members whose terms were expiring (Deborah Brown and Dennis Yslas), and two new members (Sharon Garrison and Chamblee Ferguson) were selected to three-year terms on the North Texas Area Liaison Committee.

The meeting closed after a short discussion about pre-casting and members' concerns that some area theaters have held open auditions when roles have actually been pre-cast. The membership was encouraged to make specific reports when if and/or when this happens in the future.

Dallas Ft Worth Membership Meeting

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