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    Posted June 14, 2011

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Council Approves New Larry Leon Hamlin/Equity Code

Larry Leon Hamlin

At its meeting on May 17, 2011, Council approved a new Larry Leon Hamlin/Actors' Equity Code, for the exclusive use of the National Black Theatre Festival. The Code, which was recommended by the three regional Equal Employment Opportunity Committees, is named for the late founder of the Festival.

Luther Goins, Equity's National Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator, supported adoption of the Code and wrote to Council outlining its goals: to support members of color that, due to a producer's financial limitations, are not in a position to secure an Equity contract for the Festival; provide opportunities for non-Equity actors of color to discuss the importance of working as a Union actor; and, even though the Code is not an organization tool, to present opportunities for minority-based theatre companies across the country to discuss the possibilities of working with Equity Actors and contracts.

The Larry Leon Hamlin/Actors'Equity Code does not supplant, nor can it be used to avoid, any existing Equity Code or Contract; Actors may not join Equity under this Code; and non-resident Aliens may not be used in Code productions. The Actors and producers using the Code agree to negotiate a sum to be paid to the Actor for the project and this money is to be considered a fee, rather than salary. No benefits (pension, health, FICA) are included and no Equity Working Dues will be deducted. The producer is to provide housing and round trip transportation for the Actor and there will be a per diem rate for meals and incidentals. If programs are provided, names of all Equity members in the production are to be so designated.

Larry Leon Hamlin founded the North Carolina Black Repertory Company in 1979 and the National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) in 1989, both in Winston-Salem, NC. Held biennially, the NBTF takes place during the first week of August to, according to Mr. Hamlin, "unite black theatre companies (nationally) and ensure the survival of the genre into the next millennium." The NBTF attracts more than 65,000 people during the six-days of performances and events.

Since 1989, NBTF has presented over 291 theatre companies and productions. August 2011 marks the 21st anniversary of the Festival.

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